Cover image for The radiance of pigs : poems
The radiance of pigs : poems
Rice, Stan, 1942-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Knopf : Distributed by Random House, 1999.
Physical Description:
vi, 89 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library PS3568.I295 R33 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Stan Rice's poems are outside the circle of coventional poetry in their adherence to the strong, expressionist drive which makes his work so interesting as well as entirely his own. People tend to have strong opinions about his work, which led Publisher's Weekly to describe an earlier volume of new and selected poems, Singing Yet, as "serious stuff, urgent and original." His last book, Fear Itself, in its wild unpredictability, received praise from Graham Christian in Library Journal as follows: "Rice is an expert practitioner of the paranoiac-surreal; he walks the disquieting dreamscape familiar from the work of such poets as Galway Kinnell and Charles Simic . . . His true subject is the uneasy equation between horror and beauty, the 'liquification of flame' and the horror of order. He is often capable of delivering the instructive surprises of the best poetry." The same doomsday energy and observation suffuse his new work.

Author Notes

Stan Rice lives and works in New Orleans. This is his sixth book of poems.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Divided into a triptych, this sixth collection opens with the poet looking back on Childhood, moves on to a private Hades and finally re-emerges through a hard-won Resurrection. For Rice, all affections are fixed by the age of 12long experience teaches us only how to love at the end what you loved/ At the beginning. He playfully rejects Yeatss desire to be hammered gold and longs to be mercury instead (When I Grow Up). Such modest claims make for gem-like lyrics at their best, and reflexive self-examination at their worst. A heros journey, the book has gloriously wry moments, as in Early Spring, which comes After flesh falters, after/ The eyes we knew look at us/ As a stranger./ Its early spring again./ Natures voluptuous skeleton/ Sits up! Many of the poems seem tonally akin to childrens verse, as in Mother Butterfly: Stay busy, Mother, you/ White butterfly,/ Whose only friend,/ The brown butterfly, is dead. Or as in A Black Cat: Cats dont shake dry / Like a dog. Not this/ Cat, this day. Froze,/ And hissed, /What I have missed I have missed. The title of this collection itself suggests a marriage of innocence and experience, an ambition fulfilled in a poem like His Life Story, which concludes with the metamorphosis of a Prince who Fell from his armchair/ Like dogfood,/ Kuh-shlop./ Relieved of his rodeo buckle./ Lowered into the honeysuckle. These poems are the kind of lowering from which one looks up with a grin. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

"Yes, it is surreal," insists Rice, describing the passage of time on the opening page of The Radiance of Pigs, his sixth book of poetry. By turns compelling, grotesque, and poignant, Rice's work chronicles the tripartite structure of his life (Childhood, Hades, and Resurrection) in nightmarishly unforgettable imagery: "blood-splashed" butter or snowmen made of "crystal vomit." Rice perceives a world of terrifying beauty where sex becomes a "black pig in a peach" and spring arrives when "silver lipstick is/ On the Japanese plum." In this refigured world, Latin is spoken in pickup trucks, a venue where Rice finds himself "meeting Satan in the parking lot." The key characters in this poetical autobiography are the poet's famous wife, Anne, and his dead father (the subject of bizarre and oddly moving elegies, "Don't Put Him in the Freezer" and "Dad Is Dead"). Readers will readÄand rereadÄthese poems because of their strange beauty and uncompromising honesty: "The experience isn't the vision./ Writing about it is the vision." Highly recommended for all poetry collections.ÄDaniel L. Guillory, Millikin Univ., Decatur, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



"Mother Goose" If you are death-haunted Never drink beer, my Dear, or you might drown In your unshed tears. I take my tone From Mother Goose, Who was a sot, and look What it got her: shoes Full of children, talking Foxes, crooked men, Fornicating spoons and dishes, Most of chaos, compulsively Rhyming. Everything Had so much meaning Naturally she was death-haunted. All she wanted was to Stop dreaming, but that being An empty wish, she kept on drinking. At least it made her woes delicious. When the beer cans reached her ceiling They started breeding, of course. More chaos, more meaning. She was as fecund as fear And beer was her semen. So If you are death-haunted too, Don't drink beer, dear, or like Mother Goose you might forget How to cry out "Enough!", go berserk, Sleep with your sons as soon as theyre born And slip down and break your hip in the afterbirth. Excerpted from The Radiance of Pigs: Poems by Stan Rice All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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