Pennsylvania Center for the Book


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2009 Poetry Posters
Pittsburgh Poster

Pittsburgh As Self-Portrait I
By Erinn Batykefer

“‘Pittsburgh as Self-Portrait I’ demonstrates how landscape shapes the poet and the poet shapes landscape...  Batykefer asks that she be kept in the ‘hollows and the valleys,’ that ‘small red boats’ remain on the Allegheny, that ‘the funicular climb its mountain at dusk.’”

“The voice of the this poem was immediately appealing, not only in the directness of the prayer-like repetitions, but in its tenderness.”
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Dreaming Door Poster

Dreaming Door
By Jan Beatty

“This poem delivers both a scene and something much deeper.  It’s a love poem unspoiled by sentimentality or gush.  I love the gestures, the sense of place, of being in the world and of having the world made more bearable.”

“Like so much of Jan Beatty’s poetry, ‘Dreaming Door’ is rooted in the possibility of tenderness, of kindness, of love...Beatty reminds us that sometimes when the world barrels through our door, it may do so in blessing, bringing “gifts, fierce fires, / and planets of luck.”


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That Death Poster

That Death
By Katie Hays

“‘In That Death,’ K.A. Hays describes an encounter with the wild, with the ‘other' that is beyond us... ‘a privacy about the thing that suspends one until it trots off. / To the mind. Or wherever the dead go.’  As most good poems do, this poem leaves us to contemplate the mystery of death and our encounters with our own mortality before it is our own time to ‘trot off’ into whatever comes next.”

“A poem without clutter, full of clarity and which does not claim too much. Sharply focused visual imagery.”

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Response Poster

A Response to Jehuda Halevi
By Philip Terman

“Philip Terman’s poem, ‘A Response to Jehuda Halevi,’ begins with a question that pits religious tradition against our love for those who have lived among us and now are gone: ‘Is it well that the dead shall be remembered, / And the Ark and the Tablets forgotten?’... The poem answers boldly that, yes, indeed, it is good for us to remember the dead, that in some way, remembering one’s father, one’s grandmother, one’s friend, is a religious rite more important than any mystical artifact.”  

“I love the pace of this poem, as well as its particularity, its physicality and its quiet combativeness.”
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Clairvoyance Poster

By Lee Upton

“Lee Upton’s ‘Clairvoyance’ literally transports the reader into a mystical state comprised of ‘stones,’ ‘a hill,’ and ‘grass silky as cornstarch.’  With its spare lines, its minimalist imagery, and its leaps of association, Upton’s poem offers a chilling circumstance that inexplicably becomes part of our own world.  Through the fog, or smoke, or churning water, we discern ‘a woman is being beaten,’ and we understand that ‘the woman is /in every part of the world.’  But how will we respond, the poet’s poem asks, and with such a question the poem is carried with us long after its reading.”

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2009 Poetry Advisory Committee: William Brockman, Steven Herb, Julia Kasdorf, Mairead Martin, Christopher Walker
2009 Poetry Selection Committee: Todd Davis, Luray Gross, Shara McCallum

Penn State Libraries Center for the Book - Library of Congress