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As If a Song Could Save You (Wisconsin Poetry Series) (Paperback)
Blue sky, yellow flowers, cool jazz, and Renaissance poetry all inhabit Betsy Sholl’s latest collection of poetry. Grounded in the everyday but never mundane, these poems remind readers of the wonders that surround us. From a child’s drawing tattooed onto the arm of a mechanic to bats under the Congress Avenue bridge in Austin, Sholl points to the richness of life.
As the volume carefully and slowly immerses us in the poet’s world, we gradually begin to understand that this is our journey of exploration as much as hers. Where does one find joy in the face of loss? Why does music exist in a world of grief? How long does it take love to overwhelm pain?
Through these powerful poems we learn to see past the unreliability of memory and into the depth of the present.
The child makes you a blue inch at the top of the page,and it’s still hard for grown-ups to think you comeall the way down to the space between grass blades—Excerpt from “Dear Sky”
About the Author
Betsy Sholl is the author of nine previous poetry collections, including House of Sparrows: New and Selected Poems, Otherwise Unseeable, Rough Cradle, Late Psalm, Don’t Explain, and The Red Line. A former poet laureate of Maine, she teaches at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.
“Attuned as she is to harmony—musical, spiritual, earthly—Sholl weaves seemingly miscellaneous notes into vibrant wholes. She references Dante more than once and it’s apt, for she is very much a pilgrim, someone who conveys the feeling of being in it—the tangle that is a moment, a street scene, a biblical incident—and that is a key to her achievement, her openness to the ways of being. Great compassion marks these poems, that inestimable talent for tracing the ways of kinship, how one occasion graces another.”—Baron Wormser
“Unflinching in their willingness to engage with matters of faith, personal loss, and empathic witness, these poems probe and speculate, articulating rather than resolving their uncertainties. They sweep jazz and religious thought into their ample net, are gracefully informed, never doctrinaire, and leave us lifted by their uniquely devotional spirit.”—Leslie Ullman
“Keenly alert to a world where 'the light that falls is knit with shadow,' Betsy Sholl creates an encompassing vision of nature and spirit, past and present, self and others, music and word. Always 'going griefward' toward the gorgeous elegiac poems of the last section, she offers us difficult but sustaining wisdom. 'Yes, it is hard, but there are gifts'—including these exquisite poems.”—Martha Collins