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Compulsions of Silk Worms and Bees


Lena-Miles Wever Todd Poetry Prize Series

80 pages / 6.00 x 9.00 inches / None


  Paperback / 9780807132562 / March 2007

“Part primer, part credo, part arm-swinging gambol, this wonderful book is resonant with wit and insight.”—Linda Bierds

Compulsions of Silkworms and Bees takes up the tradition of Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet, but on poetry's own terms. At first glance, Baggott's candid counsel can be seen as a manual on writing poetry, written in poems. As the book unfolds, however, these poems take on the larger landscape of love and loss, the rigors of living fully, and the intricate, mysterious territory of our fragile, hardworking souls.

She's not an easy lover who simply tilts her head 
when you appear on the front stoop.

Will she allow the porch light to cast heavenly redemption 
like a bare bulb in a church-basement Christmas pageant?

No, there's scowling, silence. And when finally
she takes you to the tub to wash away the world's filth,

you're always shocked, no matter how many times
you've strayed, that she doesn't gently cup your head,

but dunks it, again and again, 
a baptism that just won't take.

“Poetry Punishes You for Your Absence” published in Compulsions of Silk Worms and Bees by Julianna Baggott.
Copyright © 2007 by Julianna Baggott. All rights reserved.

Julianna Baggott is the author of two previous poetry collections, This Country of Mothers and Lizzie Borden in Love. Her debut novel, Girl Talk, was a national bestseller, and was followed by The Miss America Family and The Madam. She also writes books for young adults under the pseudonym N. E. Bode. She recently coauthored the upcoming Which Brings Me to You: A Novel in Confessions with Steve Almond.

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