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« “Schmaltz Alert” [by Amy Gerstler] | Main | The New York School Diaspora (Part Seventy-One): Annette C. Boehm »

March 10, 2024


A stunner of a poem!

I loved WILLIE LOMAN's RECKLESS DAUGHTER And I love ELIZABETH POWELL -- and also her haircut which I like better than Beckett's.

Love this poem! Memory and elegy and witness all swirl into a startling ending.




I especially like the measured breath of each line, and the amount of life she includes in each, with great movement from one time or situation to another. She covers a lot of ground, musically. Nice poem Elizabeth, and thank you Terence for showing us.

Outstanding work -- from the simile in line one and thee nostalgia in line 2. There isn't a word I'd change (except maybe "DeLillo"). Grace Cavalieri is right on the mark.

Love the poem and the artwork!

This week love in my pantry, on my doorstep, on my tongue,

I take it all personally. Good poem!

I found myself breathing in unison with the lines

Love the sad whirlwind of life here

Beautiful and painful. I just want to say "I'm sorry."

Unpacking this poem by Elizabeth A.I. Powell is a rewarding challenge. Her poem teems with echoic references, hiding-in-plain-sight imagery, leavening musicality, and sheer, if also sly, delight in not only the act of poetry but also the art of poetry. I’ll start with the title: “Too Late to Stop Now.” I immediately thought of IT’S TOO LATE TO STOP NOW, Van Morrison’s two-LP live album released in 1974. One of the songs on it is “Into the Mystic,” a Morrison composition ending with these five words: “Too late to stop now.” I can also trace a through-line from Psalm 137 to the song it inspired, “Rivers of Babylon,” recorded by the Melodians, Dennis Brown, U-Roy, Boney M., and even Linda Ronstadt in a brief a cappella treatment. The sixth line of Powell’s poem, “Let the Words of my Mouth and the Meditations of My Heart,” varies in only three words from this line in that song: “Let the words of our mouth and the meditations of our hearts.” Elsewhere in her poem Powell employs antitheses to bracing effect: “homesick for mutual assured destruction,” “Love was a meeting of solitudes,” and “I didn’t take anything personally except when I did.” These contradictions are not just self-reflective but self-directed. They reveal a stark inexorability of fate or destiny culminating in “I realized everyone was my dead mother acting in a Beckett play” and “I was still this Elizabeth and the soul who claimed this Elizabeth.” No less impressive is Powell’s nimble wit in such phrases or lines as “bonfiring their vanities” (an obvious nod to Tom Wolfe’s 1987 novel THE BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES) and “I drank oolong tea in bed, read DeLillo, had a neck ache.” As wonderful a tour de force as, say, DeLillo’s 1997 novel UNDERWORLD may be, a “neck ache” from reading it in bed seems inevitable. That underscores another Powell gift: the compact revelations of her lists, including this one comprising line 11: “Anne lost numbers, words, minutes, space, knitting needles, life.” I hope it’s not too late to stop now and affirm Powell’s poem as preternaturally powerful. Bravissima!

Thanks, Earle. I give your comment an A+.

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That Ship Has Sailed
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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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