“Betsy Sholl’s simple language reveals a vision of innocence and purity that can only be reached by breaking taboos against our grotesque, wild, sexual animal selves. Her poems do it quietly, even discreetly, but there is a moment of primitive purity in each of her best poems that I find exciting to encounter.”
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Betsy Sholl, a founding member of Alice James Books, is the author of six previous collections of poetry, most recently Late Psalm. Her awards include the AWP Prize for Poetry, the Felix Pollak Prize, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Maine Art Commission. In 2006 she was named Poet Laureate of Maine. She teaches at the University of Southern Maine and in the Vermont College MFA in Writing Program. Her other works include Otherwise Unseeable, which received the Four Lakes Poetry Prize from the University of Wisconsin and the Maine Literary Award for Poetry. House of Sparrows; New & Selected Poems will be published by the University of Wisconsin in spring 2019, also winner of the Four Lakes Poetry Prize.
“Betsy Sholl delivers her dense complex visionary world with grace and musical skill. Her materials are most familiar, but they are not ordinary. She well knows the world we live in, and she knows much more than that. She is a fresh and striking talent, a highly serious one.”
“Betsy Sholl’s Rooms Overhead moves with a breathless intensity. The poems snap open and shut with the fluidity of rapid eye movements in the real world. What passes with fugitive quickness is captured and ordained in the language: ‘I want the real, the sound of it cracking,/ shiny yolk spilling like the birth of the sun./ And when that’s done, I want to be free of wanting.’ These poems track down origins and losses with a sharp tongue and celebratory vision. Here is a woman at a critical juncture in her life, who takes a long look back and a deep breath toward whatever it will take to bear witness and record what’s ahead. The book is studded with talent and awareness.”
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