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Litany of Thanks
Joan Aleshire

Four Way
2003 • 98 pp. 6 x 9 1/4”

$14.95 Paperback, 978-1-884800-45-0

"In these poems. elegy gives off its most ancient light: not to stun. but to stop us; not to save us but so we lose ourselves in the sweet and gritty how it was, and past that, into gratitude. Aleshire has written a large and deeply human book." —Marianne Boruch

In this moving book of elegies, the dead mingle with the living. Multiple narratives weave themselves together in these poems, like streams running downhill outside the rooms of human ghosts. Aleshire writes of a loved (lost) one: ‘Do you expect me/ to lead? You turned to me once on the highway,/ hiking from the stranded plane.// I did, I do--I don't know how/ to answer absence, except by this/ attachment to the tangible, or: desire.’

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Reviews / Endorsements

"It has been said, Every poem is an elegy. Loss is our subject, memory its frame, and 'grief makes a weight / that only song relieves' In Joan Aleshire's hushe, intelligent, moving elegies, to die means to have lived: the lover, the mother, the friend, the past itself. These poems, composed in those spaces between what's lost and what stays," converse with her dear dead. They argue with them, question them, educate them in loss, and by so doing, move us to converse with out own dead dead. What more can we ask, except, with the author, 'What is it / like? What are you up to, where you are?'"Steve Orlan

"'Cold sharpens the stars'—The wisdom of Joan Aleshire's elegies lies in their graceful transormation of grieving into a reexamination of self and world. At the heart of this admirably mature and compelling collection is the 'afterlife,' not of the dead but of the living, the relentless work of memory that resists finality, that lifts the glass from the portraits of the dead, exposing them again to time and perceiving in all its 'subtle distinctions' the beauty of the world they were part of. If memory itself isn't a kind of litany, these poems make it into one, with the intelligence of their craft and the quiet assurance of their voice."Renate Wood

From the Book:

Litany of Thanks
Of condolences, the briefest, from one whose loss was more grave than mine, and harder, even, to live through:
In a dark time, someone reminded me of the Litany of Thanks-
What did she mean?
Nothing I knew or could find in a book, and nothing I could say-all those repetitions of O Christ, hear us, when Christ seems deaf, and Lord have mercy on us, when God, if there is one, showed no mercy when he took you.
Did she mean your broad right hand on the counter, your left on the sink, your swinging between them, lifitng trouble as you lifted yourself?
Sun burnishing your arm, and the laughter, the laughter, as if there would be no end of laughter?
Can you tell me, where you are, where all this gratitude should go?

JOAN ALESHIRE was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. She graduated from Harvard/Radcliffe and received her Master of Fine Arts from Goddard College in 1980. She has taught in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College since 1983, and has published three books of poems: Cloud Train (Texas Tech Press, AWP Awards Series, 1982), This Far (Quarterly Review of Literature, 1987), and The Yellow Transparents (Four Way Books, 1997). She lives in Shrewsbury, Vermont.

Mon, 18 Jun 2018 11:53:16 -0500