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The Measure of Islands
Mark Halperin

Wesleyan Poetry Series

1990 • 72 pp. 4 illus. 5 x 8 1/2"

$15.95 Paperback, 978-0-8195-1179-9

Poetry of forgotten moments and bygone people.

Mark Halperin recovers forgotten moments and bygone people in these poems of place and memory. Through personal and historical recollections he fashions images so alive and concrete we regret ever having overlooked them. “We should have missed / nothing. But to the west, past the mountains, / is a town with fish in the streets. Who could imagine / the yellow and orange dots on their backs? Imagine / missing that.”

Loneliness, lack, and wariness permeate these richly textured memories. Potiphar’s wife, Zuleika, recounts her dreams but falters, unable to trust even her own words. “Part of me would fall to her knees in belief / but she is heavy…. / She / draws her gown over her knees, / the cruel curve of her mouth.” She is saved from obscurity but not before exposing the unreliability of memories. Seductive fantasies tempt the narrator’s troubled spirit only to confirm that they are moments long past or impossible. “The weight on my chest is air’s / but monstrously heavy.”

Reviews / Endorsements

“Elegiac, quiet, solid as a mourning wall. I like especially the tales of wandering Jews, those family heroes with their plain, wry, enduring images of our lives”—Dave Smith

“Halperin feels his way into the moment through a registry of observation and memory. A reader can follow: this poet is centered; he is alert; he understands. His objectivity and tone of voice invite us to open our attention. His very reticence to say what he knows reveals it.”—Marvin Bell

"This highly readable book will have a major impact upon how Americans think about ethnicity and their past. It is must reading for American historians, other students of American society, political leaders, and the general public."—Norman Dubie

MARK HALPERIN became interested in physics and in poetry while at Bard College, from which he was graduated in 1960. He became a junior research physicist, then worked as an electron microscope technician for the Rockefeller Institute while he studied philosophy at the New School. Later, he attended the University of Iowa’s Writer’s Workshop and received his M.F.A. in 1966. He has been a visiting professor of writing at the University of Arizona and at Shimane University, in Matsue, Japan, and is now professor of English at Central Washington University. Halperin has published two other books of poetry, Backroads and A Place Made Fast, in addtion to two chapbooks. He received the Glasscock Award in 1960 and the United States Award of the International Poetry Forum in 1975. He lives in the country outside of Ellensburg, Washington, near the Yakima River.

Tue, 15 May 2018 12:59:43 -0500