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Alive Together: New and Selected Poems

by Lisel Mueller

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1803120,806 (4.5)12
In a collection that represents over thirty-five years of her writing life, this distinguished poet explores a wide range of subjects, which include her cultural and family history and reflect her fascination with music and the discoveries offered by language. In fact, her book is a testament to the miraculous power of language to interpret and transform our world. It is a testament that invites readers to share her vision of experiences we all have in common: sorrow, tenderness, desire, the revelations of art, and mortality - "the hard, dry smack of death against the glass". To this community Mueller presents moments after moment where the personal and public realms intersect, where lives ranging from her own to those of Mary Shelley and Anton Webern illuminate the ways in which history shapes our lives. In "Brendel Playing Schubert", Mueller's breathtaking linguistic virtuosity reminds us how music can transport us out of ourselves and into "the nowhere where the enchanted live"; in "Midwinter Notes", the, crepuscular world, stripped of its veil, shines forth as a signal from some realm where the sense of things may be revealed. In the title piece Mueller brings a sense of enduring and unclouded wonder to a recognition of all those whose lives might have been our own.… (more)
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Showing 3 of 3
Fucking fantastic. ( )
  woolgathering | Apr 4, 2017 |
"Joy, joy the sopranos sing,
reaching for the shimmering notes
while our eyes fill with tears."

Mueller is a well-regarded poet and essayist noted for her lyrical verse that explores human experience and the power and limitations of language. Many critics have lauded the autobiographical aspects of her poetry, which often concerns her heritage and her poetic development. This collection, Alive Together, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1997.
As in the final stanza of this poem, titled simply Joy, Mueller's poetry shimmers with the beauty of music and humanity. Her life seemingly translated word by word onto the paper that brings forth the poems. The lyrical beauty grows as you read the collection culminating in a joy that is demonstrated in multiple readings. ( )
  jwhenderson | Feb 1, 2011 |
My favorite modern poet. Her verse is very moving, and you don't have to "get" poetry to enjoy her. ( )
  ursa_diana | Sep 19, 2008 |
Showing 3 of 3
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In a collection that represents over thirty-five years of her writing life, this distinguished poet explores a wide range of subjects, which include her cultural and family history and reflect her fascination with music and the discoveries offered by language. In fact, her book is a testament to the miraculous power of language to interpret and transform our world. It is a testament that invites readers to share her vision of experiences we all have in common: sorrow, tenderness, desire, the revelations of art, and mortality - "the hard, dry smack of death against the glass". To this community Mueller presents moments after moment where the personal and public realms intersect, where lives ranging from her own to those of Mary Shelley and Anton Webern illuminate the ways in which history shapes our lives. In "Brendel Playing Schubert", Mueller's breathtaking linguistic virtuosity reminds us how music can transport us out of ourselves and into "the nowhere where the enchanted live"; in "Midwinter Notes", the, crepuscular world, stripped of its veil, shines forth as a signal from some realm where the sense of things may be revealed. In the title piece Mueller brings a sense of enduring and unclouded wonder to a recognition of all those whose lives might have been our own.

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