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Lee Upton

Lee Upton

Undid in the Land of Undone is Lee Upton’s fifth book of poetry. She is the author of four books of literary criticism, most recently Defensive Measures. Her poetry and fiction appear widely. She is a professor of English and the Writer in Residence at Lafayette College.

Also by Lee Upton


Undid in the Land of Undone

Undid in the Land of UndoneUndid in the Land of Undone

$14.00 paper | 91 pages
ISBN: 978-1-930974-72-2
Publication Date: Nov. 2007
Buy: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound | ShopWMU | UPNE

An Inland Seas Poetry Book
ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year Award Finalist

"In Upton's fifth book of poetry, she returns to tableaus in history, both mythical and actual. She pictures Emily Dickinson with blossoms in her hands, Dido standing before the burning pyre at Carthage; even lines from Shakespeare become fodder for a rich imagining of scene. The poems move between ancient settings and modern metaphorical language, high seriousness and humor."
        —Camille-Yvette Welsch, ForeWord Magazine


Praise for Lee Upton

"Sensual, intelligent, and informed by a desire to embrace that which has been excluded, Upton's Civilian Histories is a moving exploration that forces readers to realize how many censoring forces compel them into various captivities of history . . . . Few collections of poetry evoke such a compelling urge to live in generous mutuality, to recognize and love otherness in the self and the self in others."
        —Tod Marshall, Boston Review, on Civilian Histories

"[I]ntimacy that is sensual, remarkable and pointed"
        —Publishers Weekly, on Civilian Histories

"[W]hile she writes in the lyric tradition of Ophelia's songs, her work is delicacy grounded in strength, . . . just as Shakespeare's character, on stage, is a real woman. For Upton 'curiosity is the mark // of our relentless experiment,' and she uses language to test the reality of art."
        —Virginia Quarterly Review, on Approximate Darling

"Upton's voice is like no one else's, sad and funny and eccentric all at once, not surreal, but poised on the shining brink of a logic so unexpected, spare and original that the reader is constantly aware of the exotic 'perhaps' lurking in familiar domestic scenes."
        —Dorothy Barresi, Willow Springs, on No Mercy

"[Upton's] poems about dreams transform the often mundane quality of life in an overly materialistic America into something imaginative and spiritual."
        —Andy Brumer, New York Times Book Review, on No Mercy

"The poems are supremely playful, investing the furniture of the everyday with such peculiarly intimate insight that even her riskiest leaps of faith feel persuasive . . . . [T]he language seems an exact reflection of Upton's startling, invigorating vision . . . . She's a true original, and this is a book to be treasured."
        —David Walker, Field, on No Mercy


Undid in the Land of Undone

All the things I wanted to do and didn’t
took so long.
It was years of not doing.

You can make an allusion here to Penelope,
if you want.
See her up there in that high room undoing her art?

But enough about what she didn’t do—
not doing
was what she did. Plucking out

the thread of intimacy in the frame.
So let’s make a toast to the long art
of lingering. We say the cake is done,

but what exactly did the cake do?
The things undid
in the land of undone call to us

in the flames. What I didn’t do took
an eternity—
and it wasn’t for lack of trying.