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Meteoric Flowers
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About the Author

ELIZABETH WILLIS is the author of three previous volumes of poetry. She is an assistant professor of English at Wesleyan University and lives in Holyoke, Massachusetts.

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Guided by the spirit of 18th-century botanist and intellectual Erasmus Darwin (Charles's grandfather), the poems of Willis's fourth book attempt to reclaim a natural world that has been made hazy by postindustrial and popular culture. The 55 pieces that make up this cohesive collection are divided into four cantos of prose poems, which are interrupted by verses mimicking the miscellany found in Darwin's Botanic Garden, from which Willis (Turneresque, 1990) also takes her titles ("Grateful as Asparagus," "Loud Cracks from Ice Mountains Explained"). Disjunctive and densely packed poems mix pastoral language ("...a tree I think is sweeping out this country air") with postmodern ideas ("...America owns the moon") and up-to-the-minute phraseology ("...it's mist upon the blog") to convey an earnest desire to relate to nature: "I do this work to word you." (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

"In light of the variety of worlds provided to us in Meteoric Flowers, I think it's safe to say that Willis is an ambitious and - dare I say it? - inspired poet. And let's not forget how gorgeous so many of the lines are throughout the book." - Daniel Kane, Jacket "Guided by the spirit of 18th-century botanist and intellectual Erasmus Darwin (Charles's grandfather), the poems of Willis's fourth book attempt to reclaim a natural world that has been made hazy by postindustrial and popular culture." - Publishers Weekly"

The poems in Willis's latest collection (after Turneresque) belong to the "if it sounds good, it need not make any sense" school of prose poetry. If words were merely sounds, Willis's poetry by free association might be memorable. But words have meaning, and they say something or should. Although they're bursting with energy, consonance, and half rhymes, these poems say very little. Here's an example from "Her Bright Career": "The human heart is like cheese. Still justice may emerge from love, stained with grass, in fiercer neighborhoods." A little of this goes a long way. Willis suggests that her poems were inspired by Botanic Garden, a book of poetry by Erasmus Darwin (grandfather of Charles Darwin). Darwin's preferences for "unwieldy asymmetries and sudden leaps between botany, political and aesthetic history, technology, and pastoral romance" are evident throughout, as are malapropisms, puns, alliteration, and fractured clich?s. From these, Willis constructs a sequence of words, which, at its best, may be poetic, and, at its worst, sounds like bumper stickers stuck haphazardly together. Suitable for academic libraries only.-Diane Scharper, Towson Univ., Marylanda Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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