The Door, Margaret Atwood's first book of poetry since Morning in the Burned House, is a magnificent achievement. Here in paperback for the first time, these fifty lucid, urgent poems range in tone from lyric to ironic to mediative to prophetic, and in subject from the personal to the political, viewed in its broadest sense. They investigate the mysterious writing of poetry itself, as well as the passage of time and our shared sense of mortality. Brave and compassionate, The Door interrogates the certainties that we build our lives on, and reminds us once again of Margaret Atwood's unique accomplishments as one of the finest and most celebrated writers of our time.
The first book of poems in 12 years from the now world-famous Canadian author (The Handmaid?s Tale) combines an older writer?s reflections on aging with the dire warnings-political, environmental and moral-familiar from Atwood?s recent fiction. Short lines and deliberate, balanced phrases consider how "my mother dwindles and dwindles/ and lives and lives," how senior citizens hike and trek across tundra, and how privileged citizens of rich nations might understand refugees from far-off wars. "Owl and Pussycat, Some Years Later"-the longest poem in the book, the wittiest and likely the best-retells the familiar rhyme as a parable of late-career poets, rueful and "no longer semi-immortal," yet still conversing, still writing, as they go on rowing "out past the last protecting/ sandbar." Other verse shows Atwood-who began as a poet, despite her fame as a novelist-looking at the climate for new poetry amid the sometimes funny parochialism of its audiences (in Canada or anywhere). Yet the predominant notes are fiercely grim: ice melts and cracks, mammals head towards extinction, "the hurt child will bite you... And its blood will seep into the water/ and you will drink it every day." One page compares all poets everywhere to violinists on the Titanic. Another declares, truthfully, "That?s what I do:/ I tell dark stories/ before and after they come true." (Nov.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
April 01, 2009
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