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In this remarkable and unique work, award-winning poet Sarah Arvio gives us a memoir about coming to terms with a life in crisis through the study of dreams. As a young woman, threatened by disturbing visions, Arvio went into psychoanalysis to save herself. The result is a riveting sequence of dream poems, followed by "Notes." The poems, in the form of irregular sonnets, describe her dreamworld: a realm of beauty and terror emblazoned with recurring colors and images--gold, blood red, robin's-egg blue, snakes, swarms of razors, suitcases, playing cards, a catwalk. The Notes, also exquisitely readable, unfold the meaning of the dreams--as told to her analyst--and recount the enlightening and sometimes harrowing process of unlocking memories, starting with the diaries she burned to make herself forget. Arvio's explorations lead her back to her younger self--and to a life-changing understanding that will fascinate readers. An utterly original work of art and a groundbreaking portrayal of the power of dream interpretation to resolve psychic distress, this stunning book illumines the poetic logic of the dreaming mind; it also shows us, with surpassing poignancy, how tender and fragile is the mind of an adolescent girl.
Here isSono,a new collection of bracingly original poems, from the prizewinning author ofVisits from the Seventh. Composed during a long stay in Rome, these cantos look outward in order to look inward, transforming sights and stories into expressionistic explorations of the state of the heart. Playful, probing, philosophical, colorful, often funny, they describe a struggle to come to terms with loss and grief and to find a basis for renewal; they ask whether and how life is worth living, taking pleasure in the questions themselves. "It wasn't the life I would have wanted, / had I known what sort of life I did want," starts the poem entitled "Chagrin. " "I do believe I was never loved," announces "Obelisk. " Riffing expertly, Sarah Arvio brings wit and exquisite formal discipline to her gorgeous meditations on the life lived. These are high-burning songs of the self-- colloquial, sexy, unflinching, and unforgettable. A colossal mess I made of my life, in the flesh and also in the round; this was the essence of colosseum, the museum of my colossal shame, where I mused on the blood sport of it all. . . (from "Colosseum")
Visits from the Seventh is a highly original debut. Arvio's wry, uncanny poems take the form of conversations between a woman and a throng on invisible presences--visitors, as she calls them--who counsel, challenge, cajole and comfort her. Together they murmur about destiny, the moon, a walk on Park Avenue, sex, ambition, dreams."Poets," writes Richard Howard, "find remarkable ways to talk to themselves, to divide and triumph, to split the speech-atom--'the journal of my other self,' Rilke called it. For women poets, (Christina Rossetti, say, or Virginia Woolf) voices from 'outside' are minatory; for men they are merely the Muse. Arvio has listened hard and heedfully to these hauntings of hers, certainly the most 'convincing' visitations since Merrill's Ouija-board transcriptions, and has arranged her overhearing in the readiest manner for her own listeners: the careful, shapely stanzas; the clear conundrum of spirit possession, which is Arvio's poetic incarnation. The whole series is an articulation of what we used to call 'the inner life': one woman's passionate questioning of her sources, and their equally passionate (if often derisive) answers. She has forged her own dialogue of the dead, somehow managing to be funny and erotic at once, pursued and in possession. I love hearing her persuasive voices; they are the woman herself."From the Hardcover edition.