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Shadowing the Ground (Wesleyan Poetry) [Paperback]

By David. Ignatow (Author)
Our Price $ 12.71  
Retail Value $ 14.95  
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Item Number 93715  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   80
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.46" Width: 5.53" Height: 0.31"
Weight:   0.2 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   May 31, 1991
Publisher   Wesleyan
ISBN  0819511978  
EAN  9780819511973  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
The character of a person, and the worth of a poet, may be judged by how he or she comes to terms with death. David Ignatow, not in his late 70s, faces the prospect of death squarely and speaks with quiet authority of his puzzlement, anger, grief, and ultimate acceptance. In 66 short poems, that together form one monumental work, Ignatow describes what it is to grow old--the isolation, loss of loved ones, idle hours, long walks --and ponders the elemental conundrum of ceasing to exist: "Why was I born if I have to die,/ buzzed the fly, and buzzed and buzzed." He demonstrates his greatness as a poet when he moves beyond somberness to turn the awe of death into a heightened awareness of life and a force that clarifies how we should spend our brief time on this earth.

Divided into three sections, Ignatow's conversational meditations are at first ironic and humorous as he addresses "you fool of a cosmos." He then becomes more personal, considering what his dead parents would think of him as a white-haired old man, recalling the "silent company" of the last years with his aging wife, realizing that "it is death to be alone." Ultimately, he finds solace in the natural world--the sound of rain, smell of grass, warmth of sunshine. Without becoming sentimental or mystical, he sees that death is much the glory and handiwork of god (if there be one) as are the mountains and the flowers, which will also die. The poet turns from self-absorption, sadness and regret to see death's power as a reflection of life's wonder: "I look/ out upon the dark, knowing/ death as one form/ of transcendence, but/ so is life."

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Reviewing and Rmembering  Jun 28, 2000
I had the honor and pleasure of working with David Ignatow in his poetry workshop classes at the 92ed St. Y in Manhattan. That was in 1980-81. Now, twenty years since I worked with him, I read these poems from SHADOWING THE GROUND with even greater care and tenderness than when I first read them in 1991.

With David's death, these poems that shadow death, take on an added poignancy. By their very nature they grieve for all of us and for his own passing on. This grief is evoked from the reader and from the deceased poet himself. In these poems we feel his pallpable saddness in realizing that his life is moving into its last years. This book, although not his last before his death, stands as a farewell journal in which he shares with great honesty the perspective of entering a time in life in which it is nearly impossible not to deal with one's own impending death - even if there are some years ahead.

David Ignatow accomplishes this task with the same honest tenderness and quiet humor I experienced in him as a teacher. I also find much sadness in these poems and even moments of cynicism. But when one loves life, it is sad to contemplate losing it. And if a person lives long enough, he or she will see many go first and feel the loss. David touches on all of this in his poems, and there wells up pains from the past, disappointments, regrets, embarassments at the indignities of getting old, he spares nothing in this testimony to living and coping in the shadow of death. But, and this is the greatest value of these poems, he cleans his house of grief with grief. He scours himself with it until he brings you with him to a place of growth and philosophical understanding. This impacts the reader powerfully, and puts joy back in place alongside sadness:

"I live with my contradictions intact, seeking transcendence but loving bread. I shrug at both and from behind the summer screen I look out upon the dark, knowing death as one form of transcendence, but so is life."

David was one of my mentors. He remains so.

Excellent Collection of Poetry dealing with Death  May 11, 2000
This collection of poetry by Ignatow deals with issues of death. He explores the different relationships he has had in his life through his work and also explores what the afterlife will be like. Highly recommend.

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