Cover image for Absolute trust in the goodness of the earth : new poems
Title:
Absolute trust in the goodness of the earth : new poems
Author:
Walker, Alice, 1944-
Personal Author:
Edition:
Random House Trade Paperback edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Random House, 2004.

©2003
Physical Description:
xxi, 229 pages ; 21 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780812971057
Format :
Book

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PS3573.A425 A64 2003C Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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Summary

Summary

In this exquisite book, Alice Walker's first new collection of poetry since 1991, are poems that reaffirm her as "one of the best American writers of today" ( The Washington Post ). The forces of nature and the strength of the human spirit inspire the poems in Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth . Alice Walker opens us to feeling and understanding, with poems that cover a broad spectrum of emotions. With profound artistry, Walker searches for, discovers, and declares the
fundamental beauty of existence, as she explores what it means to experience life fully, to learn from it, and to grow both as an individual and as part of a greater spiritual community.

About Walker's Horses Make a Landscape Look More Beautiful , America said, "In the tradition of Whitman, Walker sings, celebrates and agonizes over the ordinary vicissitudes that link and separate all of humankind," and the same can be said about this astonishing new collection, Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth .


Author Notes

Alice Walker won the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award for her novel The Color Purple. Her other bestselling novels include By the Light of My Father's Smile, Possessing the Secret of Joy, and The Temple of My Familiar. She is also the author of two collections of short stories, three collections of essays, five volumes of poetry, and several children's books. Her books have been translated into more than two dozen languages. Born in Eaton, Georgia, Walker now lives in Northern California. Like so many characters in her fiction, Alice Walker was born into a family of sharecroppers in Eaton, Georgia. She began Spelman College on a scholarship and graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 1965. While still in college, Walker became active in the civil rights movement and continued her involvement after she graduated, serving as a voter registration worker in Georgia. She also worked in a Head Start program in Mississippi and was on the staff of the New York City welfare department. She has lectured and taught at several colleges and universities and currently operates a publishing house, Wild Trees Press, of which she is a co-founder.

Walker began her literary career as a poet, publishing Once: Poems in 1968. The collection reflects her experiences in the civil rights movement and her travels in Africa. Her second collection of poetry, Revolutionary Petunias and Other Poems (1973), is a celebration of the struggle against oppression and racism. In between these two collections, she published her first novel, The Third Life of Grange Copeland (1970), the story of Ruth Copeland, a young black girl, and her grandfather, Grange, who brutalizes his own family out of the frustrations of racial prejudice and his own sense of inadequacy.

Walker's first collection of short stories, In Love and Trouble: Stories of Black Women (1973), established her special concern for the struggles, hardships, loyalties, and triumphs of black women, a powerful force in the rest of her fiction. Meridian (1976), her second novel, is the story of Meridian Hill, a civil rights worker. In her second collection of short stories, You Can't Keep A Good Woman Down (1981), Walker again portrays black women struggling against sexual, racial, and economic oppression.

Walker's third novel, The Color Purple (1982), brought her the national recognition denied her earlier works. Through this story of the sharecropper Celie and the abuses she endures, Walker draws together the themes that have run through her earlier work into a concentrated and powerful attack on racism and sexism, and produces a triumphant celebration of the spirit and endurance of black women. The book received the Pulitzer Prize and was made into a successful film.

Walker describes her most recent novel, The Temple of My Familiar (1989) as "a romance of the last 500,000 years." The book is a blend of myth and history revolving around three marriages. As the married couples tell their stories, they explore both their origins and the inner life of modern African Americans.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Poetry reconsidered and new works by both established and emerging writers provide vibrant perspectives not only on African American life but also on the entire multivoiced history of America, and on poetry itself. Ishmael Reed, an accomplished and prolific poet, novelist, essayist, playwright, and editor, as well as a teacher and MacArthur fellow, rejects the idea of a narrow and calcified canon of American literature, asking, "Can you imagine where science would be had scientists refused to budge from accepted theories?" Indeed, American poetry is always a work-in-progress, and Reed's in-touch and open-minded approach in From Totems to Hip-Hop yields a dynamic and original anthology, an unprecedented amalgam of poets representing many facets of American culture and society. Even Reed's organizing categories are pertinent and stimulating: nature and place, men and women, family, politics, and heroes and sheroes, anti and otherwise. Within these arenas, readers will find poems by Sylvia Plath, Yusef Komunyajaa, Thulani Davis, Bob Holman, Jayne Cortez, Diane Glancy, Garrett Hongo, Charles Simic, Al Young, Nellie Wong, Tupac Shakur, and many others. Reed then sagely concludes with an invaluable selection of eloquent and challenging manifestos and poetic commentaries. Jeffers derives her form and jaunty, deal-with-it attitude from the blues, an American tradition that beats back despair with wit, elan, and grace. Artfully distilled, Jeffers' musical and forthright lyrics cut to the chase in their depictions of self-destructive love, treacherous family life, and sexual passion turned oppressive or violent. She calls on her mentors, soulful musicians such as Dinah Washington, James Brown, John Coltrane, and Aretha Franklin, for guidance, then, sustained by their voices, segues into vivid imaginings of the inner lives of biblical figures such as Sarah, Hagar, and Lot's wife; a man about to be lynched; and a former slave bravely attending college. And whether she's singing the "battered blues" or critiquing Hollywood's depiction of slavery, Jeffers is questioning the nature and presence of God. For Alice Walker, there are no dividing lines between the personal, the political, and the artistic, and, consequently, her novels, essays, and poetry swing from sweet modes of intimacy to blunt polemics to confessional therapy to revelation. In her introduction to her sixth volume of poetry, Walker confides that she had thought she might not write anymore, but that changed after September 11, and she found herself writing these mystic prayers and heartfelt yet lithe and airy recollections of dreams and tributes to plants, animals, and compassionate people. Although some verge on triteness, most achieve a radiant simplicity, and all are sincere in their celebrations of nature and love, and protests against war, conquest, and more private forms of cruelty. Graceful in their spirituality, openness to experience, and rueful humor, Walker's poems revolve around love and gratitude for the earth. Wesley focuses ardently on the little things--palm butter, lipstick, bony fish--to build a pathway to the overwhelming facets of life, the ruptures and terrors of war and exile, the ever-lastingness of death. Born and raised in Liberia, Wesley was forced into exile by that land's horrendous civil war, and ultimately found sanctuary in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where she teaches creative writing and African literature at Western Michigan University. Wesley writes with clear-eyed lyricism about her ruthless and beleaguered homeland, and the bittersweet relief and loss of the diaspora. Her poems are scintillating and vivid, quickly sketched fables shaped by recollections of childhood playmates, moonlight and ocean surf, hibiscus hedges, and big pots of boiling soup. But these paeans to home blend with percussive visions of falling rockets and murdered children, sharp recollections of hunger and mourning, and a survivor's careful gratitude in a land of cold winds and rationed sunlight, her carefull measured memories and cherished dreams of return. --Donna Seaman


Publisher's Weekly Review

"You/ are/ the sister/ The big/ Sister/ As hero," Alice Walker writes near the beginning of her sixth volume of poems: "The one who sees/ The one who listens/ The one who guides/ Teaches/ & protects." Some of Walker's fans may feel this way about the author herself, whose decades of literary production and political activism include several bestselling novels, one Pulitzer for The Color Purple, influential essays about social change (most recently, Sent by Earth) and other much-acknowledged work in gender studies and African-American letters. Walker's poems have long been her warmest, least artful utterances, invoking the solidarity and the compassion she invites her readers to feel: this thick book of short-lined poems extends those goals, exploring and praising friendship, romantic love, home cooking, the peace movement, ancestors, ethnic diversity and particularly admirable strong women, among them the primatologist Jane Goodall. Some poems address topics of recent vintage, such as post-9/11 discrimination ("If you/ Want to show/ Your love/ For America// Smile/ When you see/ His/ Turban/ Rosepink"). Other work continues Walker's longer-term spiritual and ecological interests: the poet (who subtitled her 1990 collection Earthling Poems) now writes "Divine Mother/ Keep on praying/ For us/ All Earthlings/ All children/ Of this awesome place/ Not one of us/ Knowing/ Why we're here/ Except to Be." Though critics' interest in Walker will continue to concentrate on her prose, the readers across the country who cherished Walker's earlier poems will find in this new work exactly what they've awaited. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

"I was so/ Puzzled/ By/ The Attacks./ It was as if/ They believed/ We were/ In a race/ To succeed/ &/ Someone/ Other/ Than/ Death/ Was at/ The/ Finish/ Line." In the preface to her new collection, Walker speaks of the deep sadness and incredible weariness she felt following September 11. After saying that she would probably never write again, she began each day by working on poems at her home on the Pacific coast of Mexico. She told her friends that she hoped to become a "wandering inspiration," and in this, her sixth volume of poems, she proves to be just that. Each poem consists of short lines, sometimes simply a word or two, that are all centered. A group called "Refrigerator Poems," which hovers somewhere between song and prayer, was composed while Walker was visiting a friend who had magnetic poetry tiles. Sometimes there is a real edge to Walker's poems: "Thousands of feet/ Below you/ There is a small/ Boy/ Running from/ your bombs./ If he were/ To show up/ At your mother's/house.../ He'd be invited in/ For dinner." But more often than not, the tone is more uplifting: "Though not/ A contest/ Life/ Is/ The award/ & we/ Have/ Won." For contemporary poetry and African American literature collections.-Louis McKee, Painted Bride Arts Ctr., Philadelphia (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

I Can Worship You I Can Worship You I can worship You But I cannot give You everything. If you cannot Adore This body. If you cannot Put your lips To my Clear water. If you cannot Rub bellies With My sun. The Love of Bodies Dearest One Of flesh & bone There is in My memory Such a delight In the recent feel of your warm body; Your flesh, and remembrance of the miracle Of bone, The structure of Your sturdy knee. The softness of your belly Curves My hand; Your back Warms me. Your tush, seen bottomless, Is like a small, Undefended Country In which is grown Yellow Melons. It is such a blessing To be born Into these; And what a use To put Them to. To hold, To cherish, To delight. The tree next door Is losing Its body Today. They are cutting It down, piece By heavy piece Returning, With a thud, To The earth. May she know peace Eternal Returning to Her source And That her beauty Lofty Intimate With air & fog Was seen And bowed to Until this Transition. I send love And gratitude That Life Sent you (And her) To spend This time With me. After the bombing of 9/11, September 25, 2001 From the Hardcover edition. Excerpted from Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth: New Poems by Alice Walker 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.

Table of Contents

I Can Worship You I Can Worship You I can worship You But I cannot give You everything.
If you cannot Adore This body.
If you cannot Put your lips To my Clear water.
If you cannot Rub bellies With My sun.
The Love of Bodies Dearest One Of flesh & bone There is in My memory Such a delight In the recent feel of your warm body; Your flesh, and remembrance of the miracle Of bone, The structure of Your sturdy knee.
The softness of your belly Curves My hand; Your back Warms me.
Your tush, seen bottomless, Is like a small, Undefended Country In which is grown Yellow Melons.
It is such a blessing To be born Into these; And what a use To put Them to.
To hold, To cherish, To delight.
The tree next door Is losing Its body Today.
They are cutting It down, piece By heavy piece Returning, With a thud, To The earth.
May she know peace Eternal Returning to Her source And That her beauty Lofty Intimate With air & fog Was seen And bowed to Until this Transition.
I send love And gratitude That Life Sent you (And her) To spend This time With me.
After the bombing of 9/11, September 25, 2001
From the Hardcover edition.