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Atonement Poems

by Judith Harris

  • ISBN: 9780807126103
  • ISBN10: 0807126101

Atonement Poems

by Judith Harris

  • List Price: $26.95
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Louisiana State Univ Pr
  • Publish date: 10/01/2000
  • ISBN: 9780807126103
  • ISBN10: 0807126101
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Description: Atonement is Judith Harris's poetic family album, a scrapbook filled with remembrances of a suburban Jewish upbringing and reflections on motherhood and family life. In its pages are pieces about family members; violin, drawing, and horseback riding lessons; fishing; a child's tea party; a babysitter who does a striptease. There are darker verses about her mother's breakdown and her father's cancer diagnosis, and several works about nature. In poems such as "Indian Summer at the Estate Sale", "After Harsh Words with My Daughter", and "Parting My Daughter's Hair", Harris makes her simple subjects significant, her everyday events brim with meaning.

The collection opens with "Matrushka Dolls", a lyrical poem that introduces several of Harris's main themes. She compares the painted Russian nesting dolls to her mother's womb, her own womb, her daughter's womb: "And inside was the seed that would / Begin the child, like a sprout, growing / A girl within a finished girl". To Harris, mothers, like children, are born and are constantly growing. The themes of love and death intertwine in her mind, and her love poems -- most poignantly the one to her parents -- express tenderness without sentimentality. There is a direct spiritual component to Harris's work that is derived from Jewish identity, but is personalized and idiosyncratic.

Atonement is a work of delicate intensity and understated power. Harris's compact, narrative verses will delight the uninitiated reader as well as seasoned lovers of poetry.

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