Orexia: Poems (Paperback)
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In sensual new poems, Lisa Russ Spaar explores the physical and spiritual desires of late-middle age, showcasing as she does so her magical capacity to entwine the colloquial and baroque, the explicit and the ethereal.
Thrumming with the triune hungers of mind, mouth, and spirit, Lisa Russ Spaar’s fifth book plumbs daily life in order to transcend it, discovering and embodying the sacred and erogenous as it does so. Seductive and symphonic, Orexia is the latest glory by the “ringleader of a stunning lexicon” (Shenandoah).
About the Author
Lisa Russ Spaar is the author of many collections of poetry, most recently Orexia (Persea, 2017), and a collections of essays, The Hide-and-Seek Muse: Annotations of Contemporary Poetry. She is the editor of Monticello in Mind: Fifty Contemporary Poems on Jefferson; Acquainted with the Night: Insomnia Poems; and All that Mighty Heart: London Poems. She is a poetry columnist for Los Angeles Review of Books and Professor of English at the University of Virginia.
Poet, essayist, and anthologist Spaar (Vanitas, Rough) draws upon the Greek term for “desire” or “appetite,” in a collection that is palpable with hunger for the physical: “Simple to say: there is a gash,// then balm. Admit we love the abyss,/ our mouths sipping it in one another.” Yet Spaar’s poems are not satisfied only by the carnal. “Can a word have soul? How move/ from one to the next without dying?” Spaar asks. And this is what she hungers for, to keep each word as vividly alive in each piece as she can...
— Publishers Weekly
'Orexia' contains elegiac tributes to those passed and cameos by brilliant women writers of cloistered yearnings, Dickinson and Wordsworth (Dorothy, not William). But its true pulse lies in the poet’s Keatsian considerations of nature to consider herself, the baroque effulgence of her (unbeatable) lexicon balanced by her competing impulse to give it to us straight.
— A Women's Thing
Spaar is invested in truth-telling, but through stripping language of its common colloquial associations, its unthoughtful dispatches. This is the opposite of propaganda, wherein the words remain enshrouded in so many associations and interpretations that they can have persuasive, and yet, indeterminate meanings. Spaar’s poetry shows that to think of the appetite on one side and our language capacity on the other is a false dichotomy. Our particular human hunger is for survival and for meaning at once, for survival through the meaning that words give our world. We are beings who are hungry for meaning and this is precisely makes language used for ill so dangerous. It is also how language, when used for beauty, can lend us back our lives.
— The Fanzine