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Elaine Sexton

Elaine Sexton

Elaine Sexton is the author of Sleuth and Causeway, both from New Issues. Her poems, reviews, essays, and art criticism have appeared in American Poetry Review, ARTnews, Art New England, Prairie Schooner, Poetry, River Styx, New Letters, the Writer’s Chronicle (AWP), and numerous other journals. She teaches a poetry workshop at the Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence College, works in magazine publishing, and lives in New York City.

Also by Elaine Sexton




$14.00 paper | 71 Pages
ISBN: 978-1-930974-77-7
Publication Date: April 2003
Buy: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound | ShopWMU | UPNE

"In their plainspoken engagement with the actual world, Elaine Sexton’s poems are models of crupulous attention, alert to the simple truth that everything is ‘part of some bigger mystery’ so even a fish can sing a ‘psalm,’ a simple shoe be the subject of one. The poems in this impressive second collection contain the sound of a consciousness meditating on what is passing in the world and abiding in the heart and mind. Elegy without sentimentality seems a natural part of Sexton’s keen-eared lyric manner and, in every sense, responsibility. Lodged in various locales, whether urban or rural, earthbound or on the open sea, answering a landscape, a family memory, or the vagaries of love, the poems of Causeway are always informed by an honest buoyancy of spirit that can mix ‘the scent of lilacs’ with ‘smokers’ coughs,’ as imagination testifies to the hard-won realization that ‘Even in these / toxic times, we live, we thrive.’"
        —Eamon Grennan

"'Happiness in love, what a joke,' Paul Eluard wrote to Gala in a letter dated 6 March, 1933, and three-quarters of a century later Elaine Sexton, in her second superb volume, struggles against such cynicism in poems that address 'every estuary' of love — filial love, romantic love, spiritual love — without refusing ‘to taste the grit.' Again and again the poet attempts to reconcile herself to ‘the everyday obscene,’ always 'searching for home / in a thrift shop find, something a mother, / not yours or mine, left behind.' Causeway celebrates the probability of such human connection in poems taut and insistent and resonant with desire. When Sexton writes, speaking for us all, ‘[T]he ones / who love me love me, god knows why,’ we know she’s not quite joking."
        —Michael Waters



Unnaturally, the small brown bird
with the striated breast
under the park bench is not anyone I know,
just a wren, mute and pecking
at something under the gray leaves
under the ivy. She doesn't remind me
of anyone, though I try to consider her as,
first, one lost friend, then another.
My mother, who is dead, is always a cardinal,
a bird she craved seeing, but one
who stayed away, for fear of the cat.
Today, tired, I try out a dream technique,
and still no one comes. Perhaps,
tired of my complaints, no one
will inhabit anything other than
what they are: the dead remain dead,
disappointed friends stay disappointed, the ones
who love me love me, god knows why.