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Quickly Changing River: Poems
by Meena Alexander
Northwestern University Press, 2008
Paper: 978-0-8101-2451-6 | Cloth: 978-0-8101-2450-9 | eISBN: 978-0-8101-6667-7
Library of Congress Classification PR9499.3.A46Q53 2008
Dewey Decimal Classification 811.54

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ABOUT THIS BOOK

Recipient, 2008 Guggenheim Fellowship

With her strong voice and precise language, Meena Alexander has crafted this visceral, worldly collection of poems. The experience she brings to the reader is sensual in many senses of the word, as she invokes bright colors, sounds, smells, and feelings. Her use of vivid imagery from the natural world—birds, lilies, horses—up against that from the world of humans—oppression, slavery, and violence—ties her work to the earth even as she works a few mystical poetic transformations.

In Alexander’s world, the songs of a bird can become the voice of a girl in a café and the red juice of mulberries can be as shocking as blood. When she focuses her attention on the cloth of a girl’s sari, the material of a woman’s life, or the blood in her veins, she speaks to the particular experience of women in the world. The women are vividly present—sometimes they are hidden or veiled, juxtaposed with open gardens in full bloom. It is difficult not to come away from Quickly Changing River without a new sense of the power and frailty of being alive.

 

Aletheia (Girl in River Water)
 
First I saw your face,
The your whole body lying still
Hands jutting, eyelids shut
 
Twin nostrils flare, sheer
Efflorescebce when memory cannot speak-
a horde of body parts glistening.

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