By Mary Ruefle
A career-defining retrospective by a much-beloved contemporary master.
Mary Ruefle’s Selected Poems gathers together the finest work from her distinguished and inimitable poetic career, showcasing the arc of her development as one of the most brilliant, expert and hilarious practitioners of the art. Anyone who wishes for poetry to be both richly challenging and thoroughly entertaining, need look no further than this capacious retrospective.
Winner of the 2011 William Carlos Williams Award
Sometimes, a series of moves can add up to an utterance or articulation that can communicate emotionally—and maybe even wisely, as shocking as that idea might be—while disorienting and unsettling us... I think this is really what Pound meant when he said what he said about making it new. And I think it’s what most of us really want from poetry. Mary Ruefle’s Selected collects the best and brightest from her ten books. It is way worth checking out.
Adrian Blevins, Ploughshares
Her language is simple and direct, even when the poem itself is not; one of the enjoyable paradoxes of reading Ruefle’s work is how easy it is to read, but how many possible meanings you can make. Though sometimes described as an experimental or “post-avant” poet, I have always found Ruefle’s work intelligently accessible, charming and reader-friendly. Her poems tend to absurdism – a poem titled “Barbarians” describes a field of lounging cows, while “My Happiness” follows a meandering porcupine.
Jeannine Hall Gailey, The Rumpus
This first retrospective collection from Ruefle, which selects from her nine previous books of poetry... shows her to be a poet of visionary imagination, abiding sensitivity, and melancholy humor.
That her work has not yet won any major award is absurd. Ruefle is clearly one of the best American poets writing, and her body of work is remarkable for its spiritual force, intelligence, stylistic virtuosity, and adventurousness.
Tony Hoagland, On the Seawall
People sometimes ask me which recent books of poetry I enjoyed reading, and I reply, with embarrassment, that because reading poetry books is my job, I don’t often think of them in terms of how enjoyable they are; I think of them as “interesting” or “not interesting.” Pathetic, I know. But I not only found this book interesting, I enjoyed it. And I hope it wins Mary Ruefle the Pulitzer, especially if they give you some kind of statuette for that, because I think Ruefle would make a flower vase or spaceship out of it.
Joel Brouwer, Poetry
Ruefle’s empirical language, littered with superlatives, activates the imagination of the poems’ speakers. What’s noticed draws forth what’s absent (side note: the poet is also an accomplished erasure artist). The previously absent is now present, as real as any other reality. The world is enriched as a result of being looked at. Vivid actions, thoughts and feelings are animated in the speakers.
Jennifer H. Fortin, Coldfront
As soon as you’ve landed somewhere, Ruefle is already on to something else. When Dickinson suggested “tell it slant,” she was also saying look somewhere else, and Ruefle is always looking somewhere else. What makes her so different from her contemporaries is how the central power of the poems comes from an encounter with the imagination and not so much with any a ha! moment about reality.
Michael Klein, Los Angeles Review of Books
Mary Ruefle is the author of many books, including Dunce (Wave Books, 2019), which was a finalist for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize, longlisted for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics’ Circle Award, as well as a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize. She is also the author of My Private Property (Wave Books, 2016), Trances of the Blast (Wave Books, 2013), Madness, Rack, and Honey: Collected Lectures (Wave Books, 2012), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism, and Selected Poems (Wave Books, 2010), winner of the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America. She has also published a comic book, Go Home and Go to Bed! (Pilot Books/Orange Table Comics, 2007), and is an erasure artist, whose treatments of nineteenth century texts have been exhibited in museums and galleries and published in A Little White Shadow (Wave Books, 2006). Ruefle is the recipient of numerous honors, including the Robert Creeley Award, an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, and a Whiting Award. She lives in Bennington, Vermont, where she serves as the state’s poet laureate. Her forthcoming book of prose, The Book , will be published in 2023.
Publication Date: September 1, 2010
ISBN# 9781933517568 (6x9 176pp, paperback)