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Duties of the Spirit [Paperback]

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Item description for Duties of the Spirit by Patricia Fargnoli...

"Readers will discover many facets of Fargnoli's voice, but two attributes that will most impress readers are, first, the almost shimmering gladness with which Ms. Fargnoli replies to the gifts of beauty and of human love; and, second, the compassion with which she addresses whatever is beyond her own intimate surroundings."-Mary Oliver

Duties of the Spirit comprises deeply moving, lyrical and unforgettable explorations of the joys and fears that come with growing older in America.

Patricia Fargnoli, a retired psychotherapist, is a Macdowell fellow and associate editor of The Worcester Review. Her first book, Necessary Light, was selected by Mary Oliver for the May Swenson Poetry Award, Utah State University Press, 1999.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   80
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.25" Width: 6" Height: 9"
Weight:   0.4 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Apr 1, 2005
Publisher   Tupelo Press
ISBN  1932195211  
ISBN13  9781932195217  

Availability  0 units.

More About Patricia Fargnoli

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! A native of Connecticut, Fargnoli has lived in New Hampshire for the past twenty years. A retired clinical social worker, she is the author of three previous award-winning books of poetry and three chapbooks. WINTER (Hobblebush Books, 2013) is her latest collection. A strong supporter of the poetry community, she served as the New Hampshire Poet Laureate from 2006 to 2009 and has taught poetry at The New Hampshire Institute of Art, The Keene State College CALL Program, Road Scholars and privately. She has read her poems widely in New England and has published well over 300 poems in anthologies and literary journals.

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Product Categories

1Books > Special Features > New & Used Textbooks > Humanities > English > American Literature
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Poetry > General
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Poetry > Single Authors > United States
4Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > United States > Poetry > 20th Century
5Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > United States > Poetry > General

Reviews - What do customers think about Duties of the Spirit?

"the first is slippery joy"  Mar 18, 2006
I know Pat from Garrison Keillor's inclusion of "Lightening Spreads Out Across the Water" (not in this collection) in one of his Writers' Almanacs. I was immediately drawn to her because she had no problem looking reality directly in the eye and insisting that life was still worth living. With Pat, it's not world-weariness; it's open eyed awareness, which I attribute to her experience as a psychologist and social worker. To engage, professionally, in those two fields and come out of it a poet says a lot for her strength of character and what she has to bring to the table as a fellow human being with a willingness to share. I am immediately drawn to "The Undeniable Pressure of Existence," about sighting a sick fox from her car and feeling unable to help, and "The Small Hurtling Bodies," about birds flying into buildings -- both of which, coincidentally, I've written poems about. "Duties of the Spirit" will undoubtedly be the classic here. There is an echo here of St. Paul, 1 Corinthians 13:13: "... therre are three things that last for ever: faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of them is love." Taking her point of departure from a letter of Thorton Wilder's, she asserts the first is joy, the second is serenity, and "the third must be grief." All encompassing, overwhelming, waiting patiently at the end of everything, grief. In the last stanza, she sums up the poem, and the heart of her greatness as a poet and fellow traveler, "and he weighs down your shoulders, ties a rawhide necklace / hung with a stone around your neck, and hangs on and on / But the first is slippery joy." And don't you forget it.
A stunning collection  Oct 23, 2005
Pat Fargnoli's second full-length collection fills me with admiration and pleasure. These are wonderful poems, both for what they have to say and for the skill with which they are crafted. The content of the poems is often poignant as Fargnoli contemplates life's losses and sorrows and the prospect of aging and dying; yet there is also profound beauty here in the poet's praise for this earth's birds and its trees and its good people. One of my favorites, "Answers for the Scientists Who Have Wired the Heads of Zebra Finches to Study Their Dreams," displays Fargnoli's twin gifts for diction and catalog as well as her imaginative powers as she brings us into the heads of birds and lets us share their dreams. "Pistachios," another outstanding poem, begins humbly enough with a meditation on those delicious nuts and then leaps to ice cream and then to Romeo and Juliet and love and then to war, and then the poet brings it all together:

Oh, but Romeo
in the garden, in blue, and the moon over.
Oh but Juliet on the balcony.
Oh but the strong vine
that can hold a man climbing.
And pistachio ice cream,
a green you could die for.
And pistachios themselves,
the simple nourishment,
the hard welcome apple,
the fallen fruit.

In the exquisite title poem, Fargnoli recognizes that grief is one of the duties of the spirit, but she closes with a reminder that "the first is slippery joy." In the "Desire" series we are reminded of all that we might be grateful for, but there is also the brave admission that no matter how much one has, it is never enough; always, we want more. Throughout this collection there is a candid recognition of both life's beauty and its pain. "First Born" fuses together these opposites in the miracle of birth and its accompanying pain. Even the structure of Fargnoli's collection makes such a recognition, beginning with "The Invitation" and ending with "The Leave-Taking." These are poems written with a gentle hand but poems that gain force with each subsequent reading. And you will return to them, again and again.

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