Black Sparrow publication of Lyn Lifshin's selected poems, Cold
Comfort, brought to national attention, as Small Press reviewer
Len Fulton put it, "a poet of substance, range and invention," one
who "everywhere roots for that stripped piece of a life -- usually
her own -- that yields the bare emotional atom."
spare, largely autobiographical poems in this generous new collecton
evoke memories of an unlovely girlhood ("longing to be what every
man / would rush to take the gum out of / his mouth to whistle for");
a stormy marriage ("each separation I lost 7-10 pounds "); self-unsparing
love affairs ("we were / like drunks, dying / a little more / every
time"); the pain of losing a mother ("holding her while / she moans
my hands are / cold, my hair a whip"); the struggle to regain self-sufficiency
after bad relationships ("some of / us need to regrow claws, survive
/ on prey, give up safeness").
always, Lifshin's poetry trawls deep waters of submerged passion
beneath the surface of everyday life, coming up with a teeming glistening
4 o'clock the
new bread our
the dark wood glowed
Instead Has Gone Underground
woman goes into the subway,
for what reason
is never heard from again.
don't understand this.
could have gone to the museum,
cappuccino with a lover.
instead has gone down the
without i.d., or
a ticket and not
clothes or flowers. It was
grey humid day,
much like today.
was today. Now you might
I'm that woman, it
there are reasons.
listen, I don't live
near that metro stop
who I am is already
Reader comments from Barnes & Noble Website:
"I thought it would be impossible for Lyn Lifshin to produce a stronger book than Cold Comfort -- but she did it with Before It's Light. She never ceases to amaze me with her literary punch You will not be sorry you purchased this book."
"Lyn Lifshin writes the kind of poetry that puts me on the edge of my chair. The honesty and candour of her stark but moving poems makes me feel as if I'm being interrogated under strobe lights. And yet I can't put the poems down until I've devoured them."
"An outstanding collection. Ms. Lifshin weaves words with extraordinary skill. She de-mythologizes the American Myth like no other."
"Lyn Lifshin has done it again; each time she comes out with a new book of poems, you wonder if she'll ever stop surpassing herself. And she doesn't stop. Her latest book of poems covers an emotional landscape that ranges from the innocence of a New England childhood, the excesses of love and the horrors of the Nazi deathcamps. And between times, she can be uproariously funny as well. Lyn Lifshin's is a major voice in American letters."
"Lyn Lifshin is, indeed, the Mephistopheles of American Literature. She entertains a deep knowledge of the depths and the heights of experience. In 'Before It's Light' Lifshin exposes the reader to the illimitability that human life can endure, and even beyond. Lifshin is the Shakespeare of our millennium!"