By Mary Ruefle
DescriptionThrough her many projects across numerous genres, Mary Ruefle has proven herself a singular artist, drawing many fans from around the world to her unique vision. With Dunce she returns to the practice that has always been at her core: the making of poems. With her startlingly fresh sensibility, she enraptures us in poem after poem by the intensity of her attention, with the imaginative flourishes of her being-in-the-world, which is always deep with mysteries, unexpected appearances, and abiding yearning.
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About the AuthorMary Ruefle is the author of many books, including Dunce (Wave Books, forthcoming), My Private Property (Wave Books, 2016), Trances of the Blast (Wave Books, 2013), Madness, Rack, and Honey: Collected Lectures (Wave Books, 2012), which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism, and Selected Poems (Wave Books, 2010), which was the winner of the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America. She 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.
"Ruefle has shown a talent for elevating her acute observations and narrative inclination well above mere anecdote to create quietly disquieting moments--a literature of barbed ambiguity and unresolved disruption."--Albert Mobilio, Bookforum
"Straightforward in form, comic and companionable in tone, blessed with the Martian gift of seeing the strange in the ordinary and vice-versa. . . "--Joel Brouwer, Poetry
"Ruefle's speakers muse in a very deliberate, declarative syntax in a lot of universalities, generalities, and absolutes, speaking often for all of us."--Adrien Blevins, Ploughshares
"For more than thirty years, she has freshened American poetry by humbly glorifying both the inner life and the outward experience."--Rodney Jones, Poetry Society of America
"[She is] a poet of visionary imagination, abiding sensitivity, and melancholy humor."--Publishers Weekly
"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
"Ruefle is the Poet Laureate of the City of Ideas -- surreal and lyrical and deeply moving at the same time."-- Michael Klein, Los Angeles Review of Books
Ruefle delivers a giddy, incisive ode to failure, fragility, and unknowing in her 12th book. "It may be our heads/ are filled with feathers/ from the stuff/ we don't know," she hazards, tiptoeing through one after another outlandish scenario sketched with uncanny delicacy. Many of these poems conceal sly fragments of lyric allusion or history: "I loved to wander, utterly alone"; "The fourteenth way of looking at/ a blackbird is mine." Rhymes abound as though refusing resistance to such play, and a poem that opens in euphoria ("What a beautiful day for a wedding!") ends, just a few lines later, in despair ("I hate my poems"). However, the poet reassures the reader that such states are kindred, even twinned. Ruefle celebrates the world's imagination and mystery: "I want to thank my clothes for protecting my body. I want to/ fold them properly--I want/ the energy that flows from my hands/ to engulf the world./ Upon reflection, this is not/ possible. Upon reflection/ it is I who am pummeled by/ the world, that vast massage/ machine." These poems grace the readers with wonder, wisdom, and whim "conducted/ without compromise," securing Ruefle's reputation among poets as the patron saint of childhood and the everyday.
--Publishers Weekly, starred review
"The ostensible occasions of Ruefle's poems are minor: not the funeral, but the bath. They record small moments with sweeping scope, moments in which the speed of thought seems to outpace real time."--Elisa Gabbert, The New York Times