Our Andromeda

  • Title: Our Andromeda
  • Author: Brenda Shaughnessy
  • ISBN: 9781556594106
  • Page: 334
  • Format: Paperback
  • Our Andromeda Honored as a New York Times Book Review Notable Books of Honored by Cosmopolitan as the one poetry title on their list of Best Books of the Year For Women by Women A heady infectious celebr
    Honored as a New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books of 2013 Honored by Cosmopolitan as the one poetry title on their list of Best Books of the Year For Women, by Women A heady, infectious celebration The New Yorker Shaughnessy s voice is smart, sexy, self aware, hip consistently wry, and ever savvy Harvard ReviewBrenda Shaughnessy s heartrending third coHonored as a New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books of 2013 Honored by Cosmopolitan as the one poetry title on their list of Best Books of the Year For Women, by Women A heady, infectious celebration The New Yorker Shaughnessy s voice is smart, sexy, self aware, hip consistently wry, and ever savvy Harvard ReviewBrenda Shaughnessy s heartrending third collection explores dark subjects trauma, childbirth, loss of faith and stark questions What is the use of pain and grief Is there another dimension in which our suffering might be transformed Can we change ourselves Yearning for new gods, new worlds, and new rules, she imagines a parallel existence in the galaxy of Andromeda.Rave reviews for Our Andromeda Love is the fierce engine of this beautiful and necessary book of poems Love is the high stakes, the whip of its power and grief and possibility for repair Brenda Shaughnessy has brought her full self to bear in Our Andromeda, and the result is a book that should be read now because it is a collection whose song will endure The New York Times Book Review It is a monumental work, and makes a hash of those tired superlatives that will no doubt crop up in subsequent reviews But the truth is that I have no single opinion about this collection how could I The book is a series of narratives that resist interpretation but not feeling except that I am certain it further establishes Shaughnessy s particular genius, which is utterly poetic, but essayistic in scope, encompassing ideas about astronomy, illness, bodies, the family, normalcy, home The New Yorker Another Brooklyn poet, Marianne Moore, defined poetry as imaginary gardens, with real toads in them In Our Andromeda, Shaughnessy has imagined a universe, and in it, real love moves, quick with life Publishers Weekly,starred review Brenda Shaughnessy laments and sometimes makes narratives about the struggle to keep her small family together in the aftermath of a difficult birth In the title poem, she posits a galaxy far, far away where familial love might overtake all woe and turmoil of the heart and body and mind Once there, she says to her son, you ll have the babyhood you deserved She also delivers a number of lovely lyrics in a supple, plainly stated line some merely expressive, some with a philosophically questioning air on fate, dreams, the present time s long gaze back at the past you know, all the good things poets write about Alan Cheuse, on NPR s list 5 Books of Poems to Get You Through the Summer Brenda Shaughnessy s work is a good place to start for any passionate woman feeling daunted by poetry This book explores love and motherhood and the turbulent terrain of grief Cosmopolitan Shaughnessy articulates, with force and clarity, the transformation that motherhood has required of her Her poems are full of regret and ferocity Boston Review Brenda Shaughnessy explores the possibilities of a second chance in life and what could come of it Enticing and thoughtful, Our Andromeda is a fine addition to contemporary poetry shelves The Midwest Book ReviewBrenda Shaughnessy was born in Okinawa, Japan and grew up in Southern California She is the author of Human Dark with Sugar Copper Canyon Press, 2008 , winner of the James Laughlin Award and finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and Interior with Sudden Joy FSG, 1999 Shaughnessy s poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, Harper s, The Nation, The Rumpus, The New Yorker, and The Paris Review She is an Assistant Professor of English at Rutgers University, Newark, and lives in Brooklyn with her husband, son and daughter.

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    About Brenda Shaughnessy


    1. Brenda Shaughnessy was born in Okinawa, Japan, in 1970 and grew up in Southern California She received her B.A in literature and women s studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and she earned an M.F.A at Columbia University.She is the author of Human Dark with Sugar Copper Canyon Press, 2008 , winner of the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, and Interior with Sudden Joy Farrar, Straus Giroux, 1999 , which was nominated for the PEN Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry, a Lambda Literary Award, and the Norma Farber First Book Award Her poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, Bomb, Boston Review, Conjunctions, McSweeney s, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The Yale Review, and elsewhere.About her work, the poet Richard Howard writes The resonance of Shaughnessy s poems is that of someone speaking out of an ecstasy and into an ecstasy, momentarily pausing to let us in on the fun, the pain Shaughnessy is the recipient of a Bunting Fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, and a Japan U.S Friendship Commission Artist Fellowship She is the poetry editor at Tin House magazine and currently teaches creative writing at Princeton University and Eugene Lang College at the New School.


    135 Comments


    1. A poem’s job is to be beautiful.A poem’s job is not just to teach, but to make a reader eager to show up for class every day.A poem’s truth should be at once stunningly obvious and blindingly original.A poem should make us happy to slow down and savor in a world of fast-food writing.Reading a poem should only be work in the sense that some people are lucky enough to have jobs they love so much they’d do them for free.Reading a poem should be the kind of workout that makes you feel shaky [...]

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    2. I read this book of poetry collection again today, on Mother's Day. As a rendering of motherhood, it is so primal and inventive and pissy: "I know I am his mother, but I can't/ quite click on the word's essential aspects,/ can't denude the flora/ or disrobe the kind of housecoat/ "mother" always is. Something/ cunty, something used." Shaughnessy loves words, their liquidity, playfulness, doubling, but she also mistrusts their naming of things. The book is best when she is pressing on that mistru [...]

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    3. Brenda Shaughnessy writes love poetry, I think. Not romantic love poetry, exactly. The long poem "Our Andromeda" which closes this volume and which lovingly imagines an alternate world where her son, Cal, who is seemingly disabled in some way and fragile, is heartbreakingly about a mother's love for her son. But Shaughnessy is in love with the world around her, too. Her poetry, while it recognizes the warts of the world, generously welcomes whatever she comes into contact with. She acknowledges [...]

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    4. This third collection of Shaughnessy's is as sure and sharp as an archer's eye, and it finds its targets. The mystery of love; the bravery of living; the hard-won wisdom that comes from experience. These poems feel deeply inhabited, soul-making, celebratory.

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    5. Shaughnessy plays wonderful with sound. Her poems beg to be read out loud. She conveys very specific ideas and images in a punchy way, making you wonder how you never thought of that before. She writes from a mother's perspective in this collection, and the title poem, over 20 pages long, is gripping, emotional, and beautiful. Particular favorites include: "Streetlamps," "To My Twenty-Three-Year-Old Self," "To My Twenty-Four-Year-Old Self," "To My Twenty-Five-Year-Old Self," and "To My Twenty-Ei [...]

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    6. I was introduced to Brenda Shaughnessy’s Interior with Sudden Joy by my MFA mentor and I was immediately caught by her cleverness and inclination to blend philosophy with poetry. While I enjoyed some poems in that collection, I tended to shy away by the big words she used. Then, her next collection Human Dark with Sugar is more accessible yet witty and spicy at the same time. Her Our Andromeda gives me mixed feelings and I think I should give an overall 3.5 stars to this book. My favorite sect [...]

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    7. Fierce collection. Lucid and gripping."That loud hub of us,/ meat stub of us, beating us/ senseless.""There are always places, none of them mine.""Feelings seem like made-up things,/ though I know they're not.""year after ancient,/ ridiculous year.""That's what you get for believing in aliens,/ for replacing our earhorn of plenty/ with a megaphone of corpsedust.""this world/ butted up against the next.""Whatever meaning the word itself/ is covering, like underwear,/ that meaning is so mere and m [...]

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    8. A lovely book, rich in style. One of the major themes (parenting) I find to be less powerful than the word play, rhyme, and sonic edge found in so many poems. Some favorite lines:-A book that took too long to read but minutes to unread--that is--to forget.-An idea like a stormcloud that does not spill / or arrive but moves silently in a direction. / Like a dark book in a long life with a vague / hope in a wood house with an open door.-The books on the bookshelves are touching themselves / like v [...]

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    9. I'm torn between 4 and 5 stars on this one. There were some poems, particularly closer to the beginning, that seemed damn near perfect in tone, language, sound and meaning. Those alone seem worth 5 stars. I struggled with the latter half of the book though. Some of these intensely personal poems failed to grab me in, say, the way Jack Gilbert's work does. The long poem, "Our Andromeda," I wanted to love. It's heartbreaking in its opening, but what seemed an attempt to sustain that level of inten [...]

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    10. I stumbled into the poetry of Shaugnessy via Cheryl Strayed's FB page, who recommended it. I gave my daughter the middle name 'Andromeda' so I am always interested when I see it chosen as a name for something else. I wasn't prepared for the heart-break and beauty of her poetry, especially the title poem. Though I hate to draw comparisons (namely because I hate it when people do that with my own writing), but I kept vibing Plath in her poems, seeing the flatness of blunt thoughts which are simult [...]

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    11. There are lots of great poems in this book. Shaughnessy's signature internal rhymes and personifications are engaging. Like most collections the poems that are just "OK" are disappointing because I want to be wowed every time. But enough deliver to make this highly recommended.What makes the book essential is the long title poem that concludes the book. It is witty, painful, angry and exultant; sometimes all at once. Our Andromeda is a cry for escape to another galaxy where the stupid fact of hu [...]

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    12. Good, but I sometimes felt that even these excellent poems could have gone a little deeper. What I like about this book, though, is that even the pieces that appear to have common, everyday subjects, like "Magi," have dark and sharp edges that leave one surprised without succumbing to gore or cheap thrills. Her thoughts about parenting in poems like "Hearth" remind me of Sharon Olds.I hope this poet becomes more famous.

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    13. I don't read a lot of poetry, and not contemporary poetry at all. Perhaps I had my fill at workshops in my MFA program. I find so much of contemporary poetry to be just poems about how hard it is to make a poem. But these poems are About Things -- not just Abstract Things like "Love" or "Justice" or "Loss" (though they are about them too), but about Things That Happened. There is a SF-nal quality to them that I liked as well. Has happily put me on a poetry kick.

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    14. Our Andromeda was surprising and WONDERFUL. It is a poetry collection that envisions a parallel existence of each of us in the Andromeda galaxy, somehow free of our Earthly prejudices and fears. The writing is beautiful. In particular, the last long piece about Shaughnessy's son is heart-rending and really clear and sharp about her experiences with him. It's a wonderful collection, highly recommend.

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    15. I really enjoyed this book. I enjoyed the third section, "Our Andromeda" the most, and her poems to her younger self were particularly startling and resonant. Shaughnessy pays such close attention to the sound of her poetry, rather than just the images they show, and is playful with her use of words in a way that made her poetry even more enjoyable to read.

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    16. This was a good, highly readable, collection. Interesting and fun play on language where nouns and verbs are used as different parts of grammar. The classic themes are here, life and death, birth and dying, marriage and friendship. All good. The final very long poem, 22 pages, is amazing and needs to be read, no spoiler here.

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    17. This book and "Metaphysical Dog" by Frank Bidart were the only two collections of poetry in the New York Times, 100 notable books of 2013. I didn't particularly like or get into Bidart's book, but his one is quite skillfully written with unusual and creative word use that I found quite interesting and illuminating. A great collection of poetry.

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    18. This 2012 book of poems is Shaughnessy's third book. The long, title poemis extravagant with both sorrow and joy. It concerns the birth of her sonwho suffered complications and may not be able to walk or talk. The courageof this meditation is astounding. The other poems do not shine as much. Irecommend.

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    19. Cosmopolitan lets me down again. That magazine has not recovered from the disaster of spring, 1882.

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    20. Holy shit. This book destroyed me. So full of pain and anger and love. So raw and ugly and beautifully alive. Holy shit.

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    21. the final poem of this book takes it from a 3 to a 4.

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    22. high points are suuuuper high. shaughnessy makes me most swoony when she turns the music up to 12.

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    23. Shaughnessy’s style is snarky yet daunting, on occasion, for a poet of my caliber. I found myself laughing aloud one moment and then struggling to decipher the next. This latest collection fluctuates from the real to the fantastical as she creates an alternate reality that takes place in the Andromeda Galaxy. It corrects every wrong that she has endured and it climaxes in the last poem—a 21 page title piece addressed to her disabled son, Cal. It is a tell-all about how he was born with brain [...]

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    24. Most of these poems just didn't make it through my thick skull. The language is playful and energetic, but I'm not super in touch with my emotions—I don't trust them, really— so all of this emotional flailing made me take a few mental steps back. In language, I value clarity over style. On those poems where she achieves both (i.e. the title poem "Our Andromeda"), I was with her all the way. But there weren't quite enough of those to make me want to read more.

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    25. “The books on the bookshelves are touching themselveslike virgins. But I’ve had them.” (from “Why Should Only Cheaters and Liars Get Double Lives?”)A middling collection, with some good lines here and there. The closing poem, to her son, Calvin, was memorable.

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    26. Favorite poems are - Card 12: the Hanged Man, I wish I Had More Sisters, and To My Twenty-Four-Year-Old Self.

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    27. This book cut me open. Raw. In a good way. I've never read anything that so close to the bone described an experience so similar to my own.

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    28. Our Andromeda is heartbreakingly beautiful. It's a collection of poems written by a woman whose son was disabled during a difficult childbirth. She explores decision making and the idea of being content with the decisions you've made and the alternate universes that exist where you've taken an alternative route. The poems are funny, sad and stick with you after you've read them.

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    29. Almost quit after the first section, then read some nice pieces, then waited, then quit. Midway, after a few Tarot-card themed - ekphrastic takes? Dunno. Probably worth a re-take, but I erased it from the e-reader. Ars longa vita brevis, e t c.

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    30. I came to My Andromeda for personal reasons, having heard that some poems in the collection dealt with the circumstance of a difficult birth and its aftermath. The concluding title poem is extraordinary: a powerful, frank, angry, and deeply affecting tour de force about a mother, a father, and their son, as they seek abidance in an abruptly-alien world, and find it in an imaginary universe. Several other poems touch on the same subject, and though shorter are equally strong. I was less persuaded [...]

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