Maggie Dietz University of Chicago Press, 2006 Library of Congress PS3604.I375P47 2006 | Dewey Decimal 811.6
At the heart of this unusually accomplished and affecting first book of poetry is the idea of the hinge—the point of connection, of openings and closings. Maggie Dietz situates herself in the liminal present, bringing together past and future, dream and waking, death and life. Formally exact, rigorous, and tough, these poems accept no easy answers or equations.
Dietz creates a world alive with detail and populated with the everyday and strange: amusement-park horses named Virgil and Sisyphus, squirrels hanging over tree branches “like fish.” By turns humorous and pained, direct and mysterious, elegiac and elegant, the poems trace for us the journey and persistence of the spirit toward and through its “perennial fall”—both the season and the human condition. Cumulatively, the work moves toward a fragile transcendence, surrendering to difficulty, splendor, and strangeness.
“In Perennial Fall, distinct, hard-edged images create a haunting counter-play of distortion, troubled insight or menace. The simultaneous clarity and shadow has the quality of a dream that can be neither forgotten nor settled. This is a spectacular debut and more than that—a wonderful book.”—Robert Pinsky
That Kind of Happy
Maggie Dietz University of Chicago Press, 2016 Library of Congress PS3604.I375T47 2016 | Dewey Decimal 811.6
If I slept too long, forgive me.
A north wind quickened the window frames
so the room pitched like a moving train
and the pillow’s whiff of hickory
and shaving soap conjured your body
beside me. So I slept in the berth
as the train chuffed on, unburdened
by waking’s cold water, ignorant
of pain, estrangement, hunger and
the crucial fuel the boiler burned
to keep the minutes’ pistons churning
while I slept. Forgive me.
That Kind of Happy, the long-awaited second collection by award-winning poet Maggie Dietz, explores the sharp, profound tension between a disquieted inner life and quotidian experience. Central to the book are poems that take up two major life events: becoming a mother and losing a father within a short stretch of time. Here, at the intersection of joy and grief, of persistence and attrition, Dietz wrestles with the questions posed by such conflicting experiences, revealing a mind suspicious of quick fixes and dissatisfied with easy answers. The result is a book as anguished as it is distinguished.