Rope: Poems by Alison Hawthorne DemingPenguin, 2009
ISBN 978-0-14-311636-3 (paper)

Alison Hawthorne Deming’s fourth collection of poems follows the paths of imagination into meditations on salt, love, Hurricane Katrina, greek myth, and the search for extraterrestrial life, all linked by the poet’s faith in art as an instrument for creating meaning, beauty, and continuity—virtues diminished by the velocity and violence of our historical moment. The final long poem “The Flight,” inspired by the works of A. R. Ammons, is a twenty-first century epic poised on the verge of our discovering life beyond earth.

Praise for Rope

In her fourth collection, Deming combines aesthetic splendor with serpentine intellect and wry humor in richly detailed and supple poems that reflect the equipoise she perceives in the symbiosis of art and science, which she describes as “a system of checks and balances.”

— Donna Seaman, Booklist [read full review]

Alison Hawthorne Deming first won my heart with  Science and Other Poems followed by The Monarchs and Genius Loci. A poet of niche and ecotone, of wild withers and weathers, she does not hesitate to stand outside self, to candle self like an egg. As readers, we are blessed by this poet’s insight—the shadows to which she gives shape as well as the silvery light she casts.

— Sandra Alcosser, Except by Nature

Prague’s punks and kestrels. The creation of salt in the seas.  Extremophiles. Continuance. Pandora on Prozac. Abraham. SETI. F-16s. The spirit. Astronauts. Heartbreak. Fishermen. Alison Deming seems in this book like a poetic delta in which run the rivers of Walt Whitman, Muriel Rukeyser, May Swenson and Frank O’Hara—but this is her own, this is her epic and private claim, her song. This is a book that pitches into chant, slides into talk, candles the self and finds the solitary paths we’re all on, the paths, like those rivers, like braids of rope, that form the community of life with all its difficulties and joys, of which, yes, thank you, she sings marvelously. “Mercy was a skill my hands would have to learn,” she says—and poetry this fine is a form of mercy too, I think, an act of compassion, a gift.

— Christopher Cokinos, author of The Fallen Sky: An Intimate History of Shooting Stars 

To read an Alison Hawthorne Deming poem is to be astonished by a truth never before seen, even though you might have been in that exact place, looking at just that forest road; to laugh with joy at the perfect sentence not because it’s funny, although it might be, but because it’s perfect; to feel grief not as pain but as water; to wonder at the power of language in the hands of an artist who believes in the world the way a sculptor believes in wood; to be grateful that there has come onto this Earth a mind so lively and so beautiful as Alison Deming’s. You will look a long time before you find another collection of poems as brilliant and as generous as Rope.

— Kathleen Dean Moore, author of Wild Comfort

News About Rope

Poetry Flash reviews Rope
Richard Silberg waxes poetic on how Alison Deming “turn[s] her brilliance outward, to light up the big picture” in his Poetry Flash review of Rope.


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