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Stories That Listen
Priscilla Becker

Stahlecker Selections

Four Way
2010 • 72 pp. 6 x 9"

$15.95 Paperback, 978-1-935536-05-5

Spirited and fragmented poetry that echoes the way we think and remember.

Priscilla Becker, whose first book of poems, Internal West, won The Paris Review Book Prize, has written an astonishingly precise second collection, Stories That Listen. These poems attempt to come to terms with absences personal and global: one speaker wonders if a former partner still uses her map which “showed the world / before it broke up into separate / continents.” Another, missing a departed friend, retraces her steps, “took a tour of your former apartments.” The recipient of a letter containing “a fraction of an ounce of Chanel Mademoiselle” attempts to understand the sender’s motives, “tried to scrape together enough dust / to fill a bowl or roll a minuscule cigarette. / I thought perhaps that this was your intent.”

Stories That Listen offers a science of the human, a way to understand the world through watching closely. Becker deftly slows action down—we see fingers “curl /around my coffee cup”—to find the remarkable, the noteworthy, in the everyday. Quirky, at times outright funny, always wise, Stories That Listen is a resonant, rewarding read.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

“Priscilla Becker presents a mixture of feeling and thought, or rather the interaction between them. … This poetry makes you both feel and think intensively.”—Rutger Kopland

“There's a distinct meditation in Priscilla Becker's poetry. … It's all very personal yet, like music with its beguiling sensuality, a shared experience of love, both intimate and distant.”—Thurston Moore

"Her voice bleeds and breathes with a paradoxically innocent wisdom, a freshness of perception unique as air. They open the page: they close the book. Becker is the best."—Bill Knott

From the Book:

Math Poem

Because it will not snow
we calculate in inches
our quietism.

The whiteness of our eyes diminishes
as from the year’s prophetic
poison, our long drag finishes.

I found it democratic
leaving sloughings of ourselves
in every coffee shop, pseudo-

scientific. The tally under-
whelms. But still I collect
specimen, I line the shelves.

The virtual calendar subtracts.
Examining my maps: no sex
till Nova Scotia I predict.

Each year about this time I resurrect
my vows to vultures, cults,
the obliterative X.

PRISCILLA BECKER writes music reviews, essays and book reviews. She teaches at Pratt Institute and Columbia University in NYC.

Mon, 18 Jun 2018 11:59:04 -0500