A Desk in the Elephant House

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Texas Tech University Press, 1998 - 70 pages
"In a time when so many poets are out to unload the dead weight of their pasts on the reader, it is refreshing to read the work of Cathryn Essinger who realizes that before it can do anything else, poetry must give pleasure. Smart, sweetly crafted, and open-voiced, her poems are propelled not only by memory but by thought and wit. She is a poet after my own heart - and she has it." —Billy Collins"'One cannot help loving a mathematician,' Cathryn Essinger writes, and these poems shine with generous, tough love for the stubbornly individual people and things of this world. Both keen and gentle, mingling delight and grief, the poems investigate the strangeness of the familiar and draw us into their new, strangely familiar places. One can hardly help loving this book." —Jeff Gundy"Cathryn Essinger's first book of poems is a book of fulfillments. The poetry itself is filled—with both the quotidian and the near-miraculous, the close detail and a passional perspective. But filled, too, is the glowing sense of her stories, as they weave and loop throughout the collection, all within a single vital consciousness. The talkative, rich voice in the poems is also full, as in the figure of the cup." "Cathryn Essinger affirms the middle world, our familiar position between the worlds of intellect and sensation. We are small creatures 'digging skyward, pushing through the roots / of stars, chewing at the webbing of the universe' ('Ropes and Ladders'). Ours is a precarious adventure 'as we grope / for a hold on some steep cliff, hearing / only the whimper of ropes and lines / and the swish of the wind.' Here 'everything is bright / and properly placed.' Everything is familiar, so much the same ('Ropes and Ladders'). Light divides the darkness. We know our world and it is not waste and void. It is good."
 

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Contents

A Desk in the Elephant House
3
The Philosophy Professor Discusses the Nature of the SelfConscious Mindor The Invisible Bear
7
In a Literary Voice
8
English 123 Discusses Virginia Woolf
10
David
11
Art History 121
12
Fourth Position Grande Jete
13
Nude On A Couch
14
Growing Accustomed to Green
45
Ladders
46
Alice Reads to the Daffodils
47
Blue Lakes and Scarlet Runners
48
Talking to Flowers
49
Amniotic
50
Green Will
51
DoubleWinged Achenes
52

In These Paintings By David
16
Watercolor
17
A Response to Critics
18
On The Beach
19
The Intimacy of Strangers
23
Are You My Angel?
24
For Six Friends
26
You Are Right
27
The Mathematician Counting
28
Three Stories That Deserve Better Telling
29
From the Top of the Hill
31
Running
32
Patching the Sky
33
Letter to Jerry
34
I Dont Remember Taking This Picture
37
For My Brother Reading Over My Shoulder
38
Lions
39
Biography
40
Not to Reply
41
Today the Starlings Are Listening to Brahms
53
As I Try to Explain No Words Come Out
54
Drought
55
Phases of the Moon
57
Moon Garden
58
Equinox
59
Eclipse
60
Coincidence
61
Two Apples
63
Fences
64
Clearing the Garden
65
Dry Creek Bed
66
In a Winter Space
67
To the Power of the Air
68
Not Understanding Hands
69
Ropes and Ladders
70
Notes
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About the author (1998)

\Cathryn Essinger teaches writing at Edison Community College in Piqua, Ohio. Her poetry has appeared in Poetry, Poetry Northwest, and Yankee among other journals.

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