Other books byMary Jo Salter
Mary Jo Salter’s sparkling new collection, Open Shutters, leads us into a world where things are often not what they seem. In the first poem, “Trompe l’Oeil,” the shadow-casting shutters on Genoese houses are made of paint only, an “open lie.” And yet “Who needs to be correct / more often than once a day? / Who needs real shadow more than play?” Open Shutters also calls to mind the lens of a camera—in the villanelle “School Pictures” or in the stirring sequence “In the Guesthouse,” which, inspired by photographs of a family across three generations, offers at once a social history of America and a love story. Darkness and light interact throughout the book—in poems about September 11; about a dog named Shadow; about a blind centenarian who still pretends to read the paper; about a woman shaken by the death of her therapist. A section of light verse highlights the wit and grace that have long distinguished Salter’s most serious work. Fittingly, the volume fools the eye once more by closing with “An Open Book,” in which a Muslim family praying at a funeral seek consolation in the pages formed by their upturned palms. Open Shutters is the achievement of a remarkable poet, whose concerns and stylistic range continue to grow, encompassing ever larger themes, becoming ever more open. From the Hardcover edition.
When Amy Clampitt’s first collection, The Kingfisher, was published, it was hailed as that rare first book that “signals a major poet in full bloom” (Los Angeles Times). Its author was sixty-three years old. Over the next eleven years, Clampitt produced four additional, major collections. Now, the most essential poems from these five volumes are gathered together. Clampitt was an impassioned observer of the natural world, the delights of which color many of these poems: writing of the fog, she described “a stuff so single / it might almost be lifted, / folded over, crawled underneath / or slid between, as nakedness- / caressingsheets.” Such was the texture of her language, too. She was a traveler, reporting back from England and Greece, from California and Maine, and from her native Midwest. An Iowa transplant to New York, the descendant of pioneers, she wrote of prairies and subways; of the movements of wildflowers, people, and ideas; and of the widespread modern experience of uprootedness. Here is a treasure of Amy Clampitt’s verse, for those who are reading her for the first time, as well as for those who have long admired her.
This fresh new voice in poetry, exposing contradictions of personal, cultural, and intellectual identities, is an Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize Winner.