The Diamond Cutter's Daughter: A Poet's Memoir


Product Details

Ragged Sky Press
Publish Date
5.5 X 8.25 X 0.45 inches | 0.54 pounds

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About the Author

Elaine Terranova is the author of nine collections of poems, most recently, Perdido, released also as an audio book. An earlier book, Dollhouse, was winner of the Off the Grid Press 2013 Poetry Award. She received the 1990 Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets for her first book, The Cult of the Right Hand. Her translation of Euripides' Iphigenia at Aulis was published in the Penn Greek Drama Series. Her work was part of the Poetry Society's Poetry in Motion project. Among her awards are a Pushcart Prize, a Pew Fellowship in the Arts, the Banister residency at Sweet Briar College, the Judah Magnus Award, two Pennsylvania Council on the Arts fellowships, and a National Endowment in the Arts Fellowship in Literature. Her poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, The American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, and other magazines and anthologies. For many years she was an instructor in English and Creative Writing in the Philadelphia area at the Community College of Philadelphia, Temple University, the University of Delaware, Curtis Institute, and in the Rutgers, Camden MFA Program. She also worked as a manuscript editor at J.B. Lippincott and as a free-lance writer and editor.


"In Terranova's memoir, vignettes sparkle like her father's precious stones. Born 1939 in Philadelphia as the youngest child and only daughter in an orthodox Jewish family, she quietly flouts cultural norms. Through agile, sensual prose, the reader sees a black-haired brother and his red-haired wife as 'a game of checkers, a regal battle.' This lovely book functions as an elegy for a father who was late to appreciate his daughter's gift. 'A diamond, they say, lasts forever, but so too, I'd wanted to tell him, does some writing.'"

-Natasha Sajé, author of Terroir: Love Out of Place

"'To name something, anything, is a good thing, ' the poet, Terranova, writes. Naming is 'a way to choose.' And she goes on to name events from her life. Each of her small, vivid packets of prose captures a precise moment in history and documents the narrator's participation, her consciousness, her puzzlement, delight or refusal. In the course of telling her own life, Terranova also preserves decades of Philadelphia culture-rowhouse friendships and customs, tradespeople like butchers and milkmen, distant rumors of Nazis, baseball games in Shibe Park. Both as a cultural document and as biography, this memoir is among the most brilliant I have ever read.

-Jeanne Murray Walker, author of The Geography of Memory: A Pilgrimage Through Alzheimer's

"Funny, poignant, and brilliant, the Diamond Cutter's Daughter is like that rare faceted gem, 'light that breaks up like a prism into all the colors there are.' Through this refracted light, Terranova writes, 'How I studied them, my family...and I saw, ' she explains, 'how all of us in our house were yoked to the outside, moving in the expected rotation of the world, blind to it all, but continuing.' In this magical book she shapes 'the fragments of memory' and illuminates the sources of her award-winning poetry."

-Sharon White, author of Vanished Gardens: Finding Nature in Philadelphia