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The Bag of Broken Glass [Paperback]

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Item description for The Bag of Broken Glass by Yerra Sugarman...

"Yerra Sugarman's first book Forms of Gone marked the appearance of a mature poet with an invaluable world-view, that of a daughter of Shoah survivors settled in Canada interrogating and recreating a vanishing palimpsest of experience. The Bag of Broken Glass, with a mastery of form and of the multi-vocal sequence, enlarges on the poet's project: investigates the permutations of the erotic in the quotidian and the ways the past permeates the present; examines the natural world in its intersections with memory; examines Scripture with a contemporary exile's eye on history, psychology and language. This new book establishes Yerra Sugarman as an important poet on the North American literary landscape, as a "world" poet whose concerns have no borders."--Marilyn Hacker

"Standing at prayer, mourning and grieving, preoccupied with suffering, somehow the poetry of Yerra Sugarman breaks through, functions something like a solar system--around a sun that is Beauty and constant, there moves a planet Clarity of Utterance, there are the planets History and Holocaust, and the twin planets Passion and Eye whose gravitational pulls keep it all in motion, then there is Music (a voice distantly related to a cello), and the planet Language (that like our Venus is the brightest of all), finally there is Decency, which is made of iron and has its own star. This extraordinary display in the literary heavens appears in every poem."--Stanley Moss

The prize-winning selection, a "day" from Yerra Sugarman's "Journal: Rai'ut Coma Ward, Tel Aviv-Yaffo, July 2003," begins with the question, "What to call it..." and ends with a related, apposite question: "But what happens when language can no longer bear us?" The poem articulates grief and loss by indirection, accumulating sharply etched details of the quotidian to evoke absence and silence; to evoke, in other words, the unsayable. The darkness of the confrontation and its final cri de coeur stand in paradoxical balance with a poetic language almost overcharged in its sensuous appeal.... The free-verse lines are deployed with great skill, and the lyric-elegiac tone eloquently encounters the dust storm (sand storm?) of history."--Michael Palmer, Awarding Yerra Sugarman PSA's 2007 Cecil Hemley Memorial Award

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Item Specifications...

Pages   120
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.25" Width: 6.5" Height: 9"
Weight:   0.5 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 30, 2008
Publisher   Sheep Meadow Press
ISBN  1931357587  
ISBN13  9781931357586  

Availability  0 units.

More About Yerra Sugarman

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! YERRA SUGARMAN has an MFA in painting from Columbia, a credential that other poets might try to acquire. She recently won a "Discovery/The Nation" Poetry Prize, and a George Bogin Poetry Prize from the Poetry Society of America in 2000. She teaches writing at New York University. Sugarman received the Poetry Society of America's 2007 Cecil Hemley Memorial Award for a section from her poetic sequence, "Journal: Rai'ut Coma Ward, Tel Aviv-Yaffo, July 2003." Parts of her sequence are included in the "Yidishkayt Portfolio," in the 2007 spring issue of Prairie Schooner.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Poetry > Anthologies
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 The Bag of Broken Glass?

Elegant, lyrical, a universal voice.......  Jun 8, 2008
Yerra Sugarman's work here is reminiscent of an Old Testament psalmist, giving voice to the dark peripheries and wounds of life with lyrical grace and quiet elegance. Through skillful poetic forms and simple words, she creates powerful moments in time. Whether inhabiting the ancient past, detailing a troubling presence, or looking to an unknown future, she speaks with a universal voice.

"Through the Portholes of the Eyes" expresses eloquently the grief and fear of watching her dying mother prepare for the end of life:

But I could no more unclench
my stare from her being
than untangle my fear

that in dying
she was also forgetting
my name.

In "My Bag of Broken Glass" the poet contemplates Poland of 1939 and Canada in 1978. These two excerpts from that poem reflect the stunning clarity and beauty of Sugarman's memories of fear and death in Poland, love and survival in Canada:

Beneath the blood bitter moments,
are there only blowing voids or brittle essentials?

Words fall like long hairs on her mind's floor.
Images get caught in memory's teeth.

Surgarman entwines an individual sorrow with the universal in "Journal: Rai'ut Coma Ward, Tel Aviv-Yaffo, July 2003." Her mother's youngest sister languishes there in an unconscious state:

To connect the body's pain
with the pain of the body's world
like the hand's double,
its shadow on a leaf
of paper in this coma room's caul of light --

But you don't wonder who tenders
the bitter or who measures

the weeping and the ravaged. History bears you
in its unconsummated peace
where it always stops
and you retreat
from the world not knowing

your history or yourself.

In "Sacred are the Broken" the poet memorializes the legacy of Ruth Apteker, a half-Jewish, half-German woman whose greatest accomplishments and possessions were resurrected from a dumpster:

The body can die alone on an uptown stoop,
seeking refuge from its bug-filled studio.
And the damned, duplicitous mist
will weave a pall from its once soft cloak.
You see how we're born:
solitary, dying, holy, broken.

And sacred are the broken, the inconstant,
the distracted genius, curmudgeon, refugee,
and the one who would offer an only pair of good shoes to a victim of fire.

Critics have described the poetry in this book as invaluable, extraordinary, eloquent, luminous and masterful. Such praise is understatement. The Bag of Broken Glass has my highest recommendation.
Two of our National Treasures, Michael Palmer and Marilyn Hacker, who some might simplify as having opposite poetic aesthetics, have deeply praised poems in this second book. What Sugarman has in common with these two ground breaking Master Poets is a devotion to language, philosophy, image and lyric searching. Sugarman's lines echo our most contemporary concerns:
"But what happens/when language can no longer bear us?" Buy this book!
Beautiful and transcendent  Apr 28, 2008
The words "achingly beautiful" rarely ring true for me, but in the case of Yerra Sugarman's poetry, they are absolute. While her exploration is often through an autobiographical lens, what is so wonderful about Sugarman's work is how it transcends her own experiences. Love and grief are, after all, universal, and there is nothing in her work as a whole or in this collection that requires a particular cultural understanding or a particular loss in order to find one's way in.
The Bag of Broken Glass  Apr 26, 2008
I was very excited and looking forward to reading this book! In the realm of contemporary poetry, her use of language and poetic form is nothing short of brilliant. This book spoke intimately to me of grief and loss, religious questioning, holocaust and history with the tint of a suffering that I am familiar with. What was so great about this book is that she is able, through her poetry, to give meaning to the grief - with an artistry that transcends the difference of personal history for the reader. This book fosters a deep compassion for reflection. I think anyone who has experienced loss or suffering will admire this book and if they are lucky enough not to have experienced that yet in their life they will admire it for it's artistic merits. She is one of the most talented poets I've read.

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