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Maxine Scates

Maxine Scates

Maxine Scates is the author of two previous collections of poetry, Toluca Street and Black Loam. She is coeditor, with David Trinidad, of Holding Our Own: The Selected Poems of Ann Stanford. Her poems have been widely published in such journals as AGNI, The American Poetry Review, Ironwood, The Massachusetts Review, Ploughshares and The Virginia Quarterly Review. Her work has received the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize, the Oregon Book Award for Poetry, the Lyre Prize, a Pushcart Prize and fellowships from Literary Arts and the Oregon Arts Commission. She has taught at Lane Community College, Lewis and Clark College and most recently Reed College. She lives in Eugene, Oregon.

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$15.00 paper
ISBN: 978-1-930974-99-9
Publication Date: April 2011
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A Green Rose Book

"By brave and honest recognition, coupled with a deft ability to glide between realms of perception tripped open by memory and emotion, Maxine Scates reconstructs a life undone by the brokenness of family, friends, and self. Nuanced, mysterious, intimate. Beautiful poems."
        —Dorianne Laux

"A new book by Maxine Scates is always a notable event and Undone—a book notable for its skill, range, and depth of feeling—is no exception. While the language is rich and various the poems are also admirable in the way they confront everyday life with a clear and steady eye, weaving the past and present together seamlessly and giving us views of American society usually ignored in contemporary poetry. This is clearly one of the finest books of this or any other year and deserves a wide audience and our deep appreciation as readers."
        —Vern Rutsala

"Maxine Scates’s poems have a profoundly human and humane character, ranging with their tender exactitude from dogs and horses to a drunken father, assorted strangers, and odds-defyingly dazzling giants. Scates moves nimbly through memory, music, literature, feelings, and landscape to arrive with apparent ease at the unexpected but true heart of the matter. Undone is a fearless collection, or rather it’s full of fear but stares it down fiercely to make beauty palpable, pain bearable, and to offer wisdom that’s intimate and welcome."
        —Barbara Ras



At dusk the streetlights
stand like beacons to the underworld,
a girl runs toward me beaded with rain
and sweat. I think husk, wheels—
seeds rattle, shake loose and a candle
is held to the egg’s red mass she is
too young to see. In Pompeii those bodies
are not bodies but plaster poured
into the cavity where a body once lay,
no less a hand pushing back ash,
no less a woman with her unborn child
twisting for a pocket of air,
the forge, the fire, the glimpsed blade,
a door we close quickly, just as my brother
said Now I know I will die, and I thought
of course and not me in the same second.
We kept driving, arrived at the airport
and the next day our father did die—
aria, the birds rising at the sound
of the explosion and plums, succulent
ashy, burnished. Walking down the Spanish
Steps on a Sunday morning in October,
no one there yet, Keats’ window open,
you said Ten or fifteen years from now
when I am gone, come back.
You touched
our absence from each other,
the fifteen years ahead you’ve always had—
when in dreams I am older and you
remain as you were when we first met,
before devotion was returned,
or was it that I let it be—our lives together
suddenly recognizable as if seared pages
fallen from a larger book.