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The Difficult Wheel


80 pages / 6.00 x 9.00 inches / None


  Hardcover / 9780807120224 / October 1995
  Paperback / 9780807120231 / October 1995

“Betty Adcock is a determined dreamer who meditates on the Now and the Here of her life, and takes her truth neat, with humor, melody, and intelligence. She writes poems that are as upright as houses, and as flighty as clouds. She never postures. The poems of The Difficult Wheel are beautiful, meaningful, and very real.”—Mary Oliver

In The Difficult Wheel, Betty Adcock writes about time, about losing the past yet never being able to lose it. Hers are poems about vanishings, about grief, and about folly—our absurd attempt to cancel time and space, to abstract ourselves out of history and out of nature, and to distract ourselves from death’s specter.

Adcock’s verses fuse formal pattern with the chaos of rapid change, music with grief, the world’s presences—deer, bird, fox, all that shakes the “shuddering loom”—with the absences that time has dreamed and language must confront. Out of her personal losses Adcock imagines the larger ones we are facing at the end of the twentieth century.

But there are celebrations here, too: a simple field of wild flowers on an Aegean island becomes music, memory, a “pearl of great price.” A woman caring for injured birds in her backyard aviary keeps “bits of heaven’s weather, pieces of the sky” and because of her earthbound love, they will rise.

Arresting language and challenging vision distinguish these poems and this poet. 

Betty Adcock is the author of six previous books of poetry and the recipient of two Pushcart Prizes, the Poets’ Prize, the North Carolina Medal for Literature, the Texas Institute of Letters Prize for Poetry, the Hanes Award from the Fellowship of Southern Writers, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She taught for twenty years at Meredith College and for ten years at the Warren Wilson MFA program for Writers.

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