A Memory of the Future: Poems
In A Memory of the Future, critically acclaimed poet Elizabeth Spires reflects on selfhood and the search for a core identity. Inspired by the tradition of poetic interest in Zen, Spires explores the noisy space of the mind, interrogating the necessary divide between the social persona that navigates the world and the artist's secret self. With vivid, careful attention to the minute details of everyday moments, A Memory of the Future observes, questions, and meditates on the ordinary, attempting to make sense of the boundaries of existence.
As the poems move from Zen reflections outward into the identifiable worlds of Manhattan, Maine, and Maryland's Eastern shore, houses, both real and imagined, become metaphorical extensions of the self and psyche. These poems ask the unanswerable questions that become more pressing in the second half of life. How are we changed by the passage of time? How does memory define and shape us? As Spires reminds us, any memory of the future will become, paradoxically, a memory of the past, and of forgetting.
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About the Author
I was born in Lancaster, Ohio, in 1952 and grew up nearby in Circleville. By the time I was twelve, I had decided to be a writer. My plan (influenced by my admiration for Flannery O'Connor) was to become a short story writer. For some reason, that never happened. Instead, in college at Vassar, I began writing poetry seriously. This has led to my publishing four collections of poetry for adults (Globe, Swan's Island, Annonciade, and Worldling). My daughter, Celia, who is seven, defined poetry one day (very appropriately, I thought) as "playing with words." I have "played with words," I believe, in my writing for children: in two books of riddles, With One White Wing and Riddle Road, and, of course, in The Mouse of Amherst. Ever since I was a girl, I have admired and loved Emily Dickinson's poetry. I have memorized many of her poems, and recently wrote a short piece on my first encounter with Dickinson for The Bulletin of the Poetry Society of America. Although I didn't analyze my reasons for writing The Mouse of Amherst while I was writing it, I think now that I wanted to express the depth and complexity of poetic inspiration, friendship, and apprenticeship. That's thinking of it purely in adult terms. But I hope children will identify with Emmaline, the novice poet, and perhaps be inspired to write some poems themselves . . . for no reason other than the sheer joy of expressing themselves when they feel an emotion or idea bubbling up inside them. Ideally, I hope my writing for children will lead them somewhere they have never been imaginatively, and that it will help them believe and delight in the power of words and language! Elizabeth Spires' work includes The Mouse of Amherst (1999), A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the year, I Am Arachne (2001), and her latest novel, I Heard God Talking to Me (2009)
A Memory of the Future by Elizabeth Spires is like a cup of tea for the weary. . . . [Spires's] metaphysical concerns are grounded in refreshingly thoughtful poems as the speaker considers small moments through a spiritual, often Zen perspective.--Elizabeth Lund