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Escaping the House of Certainty


80 pages / 6.00 x 9.00 inches / 0 Halftones


  Paperback / 9780807131855 / November 2006

Escaping the House of Certainty marks a departure from Susan Ludvigson's previous verse and taps a new experimental vein for the poet. Some of the poems resemble abstract art—a collage of fragments, alternately floating and spliced, evoking personal associations and approaching a three-dimensional sentience. In a series of prose poems, Ludvigson combines dreams with elements from French villages, creating surprising new revelations forged from the unconscious and the known. For lighthearted relief, she provides an assortment of recipe poems: "Eggplant Provençal: a Homily," "French Bread," and "Gratin Dauphinoise," to name a few. Being and nothingness, art and life, body and spirit—these are the themes ofEscaping the House of Certainty, an intriguing, essential piece in Ludvigson's oeuvre.

They are still digging, dinosaur bones piling up like the lies of lovers. This year, a new species. Its eggs trapped in silt are stone. Remember the way we imagined the future, blind to the slow hardening of possibility? Unearthing new knowledge, we must revise the reluctant past. Even a pale flame of a woman can grieve longer than anyone knows for her own petrified eggs, for a husband not deaf to her beauty, but mute. She stood here too, on the rim of this crater, watching the dig. She toured the museum where even the most surprising lives are arranged behind glass, classified.
Susan Ludvigson is the author of eight previous volumes of poems and the recipient of Guggenheim, Rockefeller, Fulbright, NEA, and Witter Bynner Fellowships. A native of Wisconsin, she has made her home in the South for more than thirty years and travels to France as much as possible. She teaches at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

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