The Selvage: Poems

by Linda Gregerson

The poems in Selvage, Linda Gregerson’s first collection since her Kingsley Tufts Award winning Magnetic North, allude to Milton, to the great myths of Ariadne, Theseus, and Dido, and include a magnificent series detailing Masaccio’s frescoes about the life of Saint Peter.

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN-13/ EAN: 9780547750095
  • ISBN-10: 0547750099
  • Pages: 112
  • Publication Date: 10/23/2012
  • Carton Quantity: 24

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About the Author
  • About the Book
    A magnificent new collection from National Book Award finalist and Kingsley Tufts Award winner Linda Gregerson

    In eloquent poems about Ariadne, Theseus, and Dido, the death of a father, a bombing raid in Lebanon, and in a magnificent series detailing Masaccio’s Brancacci frescoes, The Selvage deftly traces the “line between” the “wonder and woe” of human experience. Keenly attuned to the precariousness of our existence in a fractured world—of “how little the world will spare us”—Gregerson explores the cruelty of human and political violence, such as the recent island massacre in Norway and “the current nightmare” of war and terrorism. And yet, running as a “counterpoint” to violence and cruelty is “The reigning brilliance / of the genome and / the risen moon . . . ,” “The / arachnid’s exoskeleton. The kestrel’s eye.” The Selvage is the boldest evidence yet that Linda Gregerson’s unique combination of dramatic lyricism and fierce intelligence transcends current fashions to claim an enduring place in American poetry.


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  • Excerpts

    The Selvage

    So door to door among the shotgun
    shacks in Cullowhee and Waynesville in
    our cleanest shirts and ma’am
    and excuse me were all but second

    nature now and this one woman comes
    to the door she must have weighed
    three hundred pounds Would you be
    willing to tell us who you plan to vote

    for we say and she turns around with
    Everett who’re we voting for? The
    black guy says Everett. The black guy
    she says except that wasn’t the language

    they used they used the word
    we’ve all agreed to banish from even our
    innermost thoughts, which is when
    I knew he was going to win.

    At which point the speaker discovers,
    as if the lesson were new,
    she has told the story at her own expense.
    Amazing, said my sister’s chairman’s

    second wife, to think what you’ve
    amounted to considering where you’re from,
    which she imagined was a compliment.
    One country, friends. Where when

    we have to go there, as, depend
    upon it, fat or thin, regenerate
    or blinkered-to-the-end, we shall,
    they have to take us in. I saw

    a riverful of geese as I drove home across
    our one-lane bridge. Four hundred of them
    easily, close-massed against the current and
    the bitter wind (some settled on the ice) and just

    the few at a time who’d loosen rank to
    gather again downstream. As if
    to paraphrase. The fabric
    every minute bound

    by just that pulling-out that holds
    the raveling together. You were driving
    all this time? said Steven. Counting
    geese? (The snow falling into the river.)

    No. (The river about
    to give itself over to ice.) I’d stopped.
    Their wingspans, had they not
    been taking shelter here, as wide as we are tall.

    Slight Tremor

    The fine fourth finger
    of his fine right hand,

    just slightly, when
    he’s tracking our path

    on his iPhone or
    repairing the clasp

    on my watch I
    will not think about

    the myelin sheath.
    Slight tremor only,

    transient, so
    the flaw in the

    pavement must
    have been my

    mother’s back.


    Smothered up in gauze, the sky’s
       been healing for a week or

    two, conserving its basin of gruel.
       The shops have closed

    in sympathy. The ferry’s ministrations
       barely mark the hour. And just

    when we’d convinced ourselves that
       beauty unsubdued betrays

    a coarsened mind, the fabric starts
       to loosen, lift, and daylight

    all unblighted takes a gaudy good-
       night bow. What sodden

    indistinction just an hour ago had all
       but persuaded us not to

    regret resumes its first divisions:
       slate from cinder, ash

    from smoke, warm dapple-gray from
       moleskin, dove- from

    Quaker-gray from taupe, until
       the blackwater satins unroll their

    gorgeous lengths above a sharpening
       partition of lake-and-loam.

    Give up yet? says the cirro-strato-sable
       brush. Then watch

    what I can do with orange. And,
       flood-lit, ink-besotted, so

    assails the upper atmosphere that
       all our better judgment

    fails. The Alps? They’ve seen it all
       before. They’ve flattened

    into waiting mode. The people?
       Flat bedazzled. But

    in fairness had a shorter way to fall.

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