cover image Selected Poems

Selected Poems

Mary Ruefle, Wave (Consortium, dist.), $24 (178p) ISBN 978-1-933517-45-2

This first retrospective collection from Ruefle, which selects from her nine previous books of poetry, the earliest of which first appeared in 1982, shows her to be a poet of visionary imagination, abiding sensitivity, and melancholy humor. This book also reveals Ruefle to be in the habit of writing one kind of poem—first person, usually set in unbroken columns about half a page long; it's a good kind of poem, but can become tiresome in large doses. Most remarkable, especially in the early poems, is the quiet, straightforward clarity of her voice, something deceptively hard to achieve: "One wants simply, said the lady,/ to sit on the bank and throw stones/ while another wishes he were standing/ in the Victoria and Albert Museum," reads "The Intended," which moves along with a characteristic kind of wisdom. More recent poems, such as those from her acclaimed collection Tristimania, turn either toward a kind of surrealism or exaggerated reality for its power: "I failed to put the cap back on the glue./ But it has been a beautiful day." While Ruefle has long been a favorite poet among poets, her books have mostly appeared with small university presses, making them hard to find; this accessible selection should bring them to a wider audience. (Sept.)