Cover image for Dailies & rushes
Dailies & rushes
Kinsolving, Susan.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Grove Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xiii, 88 pages ; 21 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3561.I578 D35 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



"The passion, playfulness, and regret in these wonderful poems will make many women think this book was written just for them." -- Susan Cheever

"Susan Kinsolving's poems skate with a dark elegance on the thin ice between the upper air and a deepening sorrow, between the day's figures and memory's pattern. But she's headed towards love: the distant shore, the beckoning warmth; and by the end of Dailies & Rushes she has gotten herself -- and, to our delight and gratitude, brought us as well--triumphantly there." -- J. D. McClatchy

"What rings with authenticity in Susan Kinsolving's poems is a lovely severity. . . . Sorrow and courage and pleasure register themselves in lucid distillations, like the purities of winter air." -- Anthony Hecht

"'Things just are,' Susan Kinsolving writes, in a matter-of-fact tone that belies a fiery intensity. In her poetry, commonplace things are imbued with a magical aura. Her wry wit clarifies as it deepens a tragic vision." -- Grace Schulman

"In her first major collection Susan Kinsolving shows herself to be a poet of ravenous amplitudes, of wit schooled by feeling, of observations had owed by memory, and of landscape rising to what she calls 'an oblique sublimity' which is also the hallmark of her art." -- Edward Hirsch

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Like prints rushed to the screening room, the poems of Kinsolving's debut hit simultaneous notes of specificity and vagueness, as if the rest of the story remains to be shot. In a familiar, no longer New York School blend of the quotidian and the quixotic, she takes on international politics, the violent death of a relative and the classic urgency of losing and finding love; and yet it is the occasional searing private moment, and not the thematic scope, that makes many of these poems shine. The best, like "The Jellyfish" or "The Night Nurse," strike to the heart of an ironic or Plath-like conundrum: "`These are your numbers,' she soothes. `You must/ not refuse. The hospital provides them free/ of charge and we can insert them without leaving/ scars.'" Often it is the half-buried pun that satisfies here rather than her more overt word-play, and similarly, the poems frequently end with a ponderous last line that sometimes works, and sometimes comes off belabored: "I hear/ the closing door as it has never closed before." Kinsolving's tone can indeed be lofty, speaking of death as "the great weight of being," and the frequent repetitions are often ineffective, coming off more as unwieldly struggles than as artifice. But in her impressively stylized constructions and "more than meets the eye" depths (well explored in Richard Howard's rapt introduction) there remains a mutable, complex imagery ("The sick float past their bloodsteams into an evening of smooth lakes") giving even the more uneven pieces an ambivalent appeal. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Every year, dozens of first books of poetry are published, some unremarkable, some surprisingly good, but just a few truly memorable. Kinsolving's first effort (save a collaboration with artist Susan Colgan) is such a book. How refreshing to encounter a poet who cannot be so easily defined, who moves from "a stick,/ wandering over snowdrifts/ cheerful and unassuming/A Chaplin cane without Charlie" to a poem about a psychopath who counts the poet's uncle among his victims and ends thus: "amid the daily news/ of armies, viruses, and madmen, I act casual,/ fearing that my children are my prayers." Rather elegant, often ironic, and yet never offhand, these poems deliver their assessment in lucid and polished lines. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter One WINTER WATCH THE GIFT In red foil paper was my present, just as I had asked: a magnifying glass. I was five, but my dismay was huge intensified by feigned gratitude. What to say? where was the word of my mistake? In silence, I enlarged snowflakes, pine needles, carpet threads, six crumbs of cake, and the dark pupils of my dog's eyes. But the word hid elsewhere, almost disguised, as glass might be the illusion of clarity. And so it's been in all my words and hopes: poems, the elusive gift, the microscope. WITHOUT I saw a stick wandering over snowdrifts cheerful and unassuming twirling and unarmed. A Chaplin cane without Charlie wobbled and poked making its way taking its walk alone a crutch without connection. It plodded deep half disappearing in white while creating and leaving the shape of its emptiness. I followed it far an odd extension I could not grasp and it went away, an immaculate line of idea on which only cold air was allowed to lean. SNOW SLEEP As icicles fell between the edge of the eave and the night, my grandmother fell into what she said was "snow sleep." The clear points of her consciousness broke down into drifts and entered shapes unseen. The blue flakes of her old eyes opened into an absolute. Whiteness covered over my grandmother and under the sheets of those December weeks, she was deeper than seasons, she was calmer than cold. CUBES ON A CURVE White cubes on a white curve are snow-covered hives on a snow-covered hill. Walking past this icy pasture, I hear a hum, a low minor one, thin as the crystalline lace in the ditch, distant as the reasons shaping the drift. Who can come to grips with insects or ice, other worlds in this? In the inner ear is what buzzes here. And beyond. I cannot see, but in the white box is a frozen bee. Clover catches its breath and sap stops in the trees. Hands warm as they numb. Gradually, quietly, momentous forces reduce to minute degrees. Hope is as elementary as ancient mercury. Finally, each hum is nothing but a prayer for one, this one. FROM DECEMBER TO FEBRUARY The depth of cold, that bone and tooth of winter, stuns us as the immensity of ice snaps and settles over the jagged river, its current turned into a disorder of edges. Only our senses converge as we stare in silence unable to ask what holds us here with the wind biting our lips, our gloved fingertips, numbing us with something sub-zero, a negative count toward infinity. Last night, the knife points of stars stopped us from walking into the warmth of a room. Instead, we stood shivering as if waiting for the black water-taffeta sky to be slit open, for the silver light to pour out, kindle its color, and release us from so much space, from the vast chill of separation, the force of isolation. Even the moon denied its radiant cradle and suspended a steely scythe. But we who were born in this season have learned the myths of its severity, its impervious heart. We will walk by the river and into the night together. After all, we were once the infants suited for this frosted earth and frozen air. We became the children who accepted the chilblains of their own creations, their small arms feathered with soft flakes, their bodies lying in an imitation of angels, as ours lie in another shape. PEELINGS What is the matter here, but a hearty way to stew and get through another winter? The porcelain basin is layered, a cross-hatching of tattered wet ribbons, earth orange, dirt brown, root white, the thin skins that separate space from the heart of the matter. With the sinews of carrot, the fortitude of potato, the perseverance of parsnip, a person can pare down an enigma. What is unresolved can dissolve, lost in the broth of seasons. With so many mouths to feed, so much pith and peeling, what is the recipe for comfort in our vast cold? What changes this chill to a fast boil? Copyright © 1999 Susan Kinsolving. All rights reserved.