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Elizabeth Powell

Elizabeth Powell

Elizabeth Powell was born in New York City and received a BA from the University of Wisconsin, and an MFA in Fiction Writing from Vermont College. She has taught at Goddard College and at the University of Vermont and has also worked as a journalist and congressional aide. She has received grants from the Vermont Council on the Arts, as well as a residency from Yaddo. Her poems have appeared in The Atlanta Review, Harvard Review, Sonora Review, Poet Lore, and elsewhere. Her short fiction has appeared in The Black Warrior Review. Elizabeth teaches at the University of Vermont, is poetry editor of Green Mountains Review, and lives with her family in Burlington, Vermont.

 

 

 

The Republic of Self

The Republic of SelfThe Republic of Self

$14.00 paper | 79 Pages
ISBN: 978-1-930974-03-6
Publication Date: March 2001
Buy: Amazon.com

Winner of The 2000 New Issues Poetry Prize

The Republic of Self is a meditation on both the public and private American self. Elizabeth Powell's serious yet sexy and entertaining poems attempt to reconcile the divisions, diversions, and prospects of the self as we know it. Throughout her spirited investigation the poet enlists poems in prose––within the larger, more lyrical narration––to comment on the self's predicament, much as one of Shakespeare's fools might comment upon a play. Indeed, the self is a fool of sorts, as the poems infer through their wit, gravity, wistfulness, and desires. The Republic of Self becomes a field guide to all that lives within: nymphs, satyrs, Greco-Roman gods, even the icons of mass media and government are here in this, our forever new/old republic still inventing itself. Elizabeth Powell brings us a wise, outrageous, and surprisingly tender view of who we are.

"Nothing quite like her in American poetry––Elizabeth Powell is a mischievous, melancholy, funny, metaphysical and ironic ecstacist, a kind of up-dated Fernando Pessoa for our troubled and dear republic. Her brain is full of sexy calibrations, her heart vulnerable to mood swings and grievous truths, her world lush with both the visible and the invisible. What a great new voice, streaming with imagination and verve."
         —David Rivard

From the Foreword by C. K. Williams:

"There's so much right in this book, so much spirit and intelligence and personal and mythic and historical imagination, that its many poetic surprises come to seem absolutely inevitable, its rigor and its hard-earned truths essential, its absolute command of artifice perfectly natural: it's the kind of book that seems to have always been there, only waiting for us finally to arrive."
         —C.K. Williams

Poem

Pledge

Republic, your cool hands
On my schoolgirl shoulders.
Not sure what allegiance meant
Until the vows were held by heart,
By memory, by rote, by benign betrothal.
Republic, you were mine, I knew
Because of Mother’s religious pamphlets:
Lindsay for Mayor.
McGovern for President.
How to Register Voters.

I didn’t ever want to go to school
On Saturdays. The baby-sitter said
If Nixon won, I’d have to go. Me,
Your most cherished child bride.
I wanted a white communion dress
Like the ones the Catholic girls wore.
Republic, you know I wanted to play
Cards with Mother. Mother smoking
Marlboros, watching Watergate all week.
Citizen Mother all consumed at that confessional.
I liked the name Betsy Ross.
I liked the idea of sewing flags.
I liked the tattered textbook about the colonies.
So tender, so tender. My Republic,
I am pledged by my childish troth
So strangely to you.