By Dorothea Lasky
Publication Date: September 1, 2007
ISBN# 9781933517247 (6x8.75 88pp, paperback and limited edition hardcover)
An unforgettable debut: Lasky is a seductive prophet who delights as well as she terrifies. If the Book of Revelations had been scribbled in the diary of a precocious fourteen-year-old girl, the prophecies might look something like AWE. Lasky is a daring truth teller, naming names and boldly pushing the boundaries of confession.
Walt Whitman, Kenneth Koch, Frank O’Hara, Andre Breton and fairy tales shimmer in the background while the speaker, clear-eyed, observes of a wolf we all know: “O the red room of his mouth / That I am sleeping so soundly in.” Lasky beckons to us, in a voice bigger than her own, “Follow me, I know everything.”
Melanie Hubbard, St. Petersburg Times
Awe is a startling collection, a book willing to offer the reader a quiet intensity and a hushed honesty. Lasky, pushing aside the hip tendencies of our literary moment, writes from the place where poetry started: A genuine need to communicate emotion, to speak to our most human tendencies.
Tim Lockridge, Corduroy Books
Brimming with bright-eyed assertions and candid feelings while maintaining a sense of humor, Lasky’s poetry is surprisingly sincere and optimistic.
Katie Fowley, Rain Taxi
[Lasky’s] vision is not just in the pictures she shows us in her poems, but in the act of seeing them in the first place. In lines that remind me of the way William Carlos Williams insisted that only the imagination gives us access to reality, Lasky’s poems evoke a practice of living, as bloody and awful and lovely as living can ever be.
Julia Bloch, Bitch
Most notable in this slim debut is Lasky’s recurring and refreshingly un-ironic awe of God, the soul and the spirit. Amid Brazilian bikini waxes, cheating lovers and trips to the 7-Eleven, Lasky negotiates a young woman’s world with true belief: “Save me O Lord.../ Save me from abuse and wisdom and red hot sin.” Lasky deftly handles holy subjects in an unholy, and yet never disrespectful, manner... In the end it is Lasky’s relationship to her God that inspires her best and makes this a surprising and worthwhile read: “To the fire in his heart and the fire in God/ That makes the whole world/ Thump in a beating music, heartbeats and mountains/ that makes the bluebird in the tree."
The heady, ascentionist quality of the poems, their sheer passion, don’t just bounce off into a poemy haze, or create the careful discursive acts so prevalent today. There are actual visions. You know, visions: overpowering, otherwordly warnings full of blood stains and blessings and blinding light.
Cynthia Arrieu-King, DIAGRAM
It is kind of like (for girls of the prairies, born in the late ’70s) getting chapped lips at a slumber party, after an intense round of Cyndi Lauper lip-synching/dance performance moves, in the fifth grade or so. Or, maybe, it is also like chewing off the edge of your hangnail in the wintertime, and then walking home from a bar in your static-inducing hat, and then getting in the soft and dirty sheets of your bed to warm up.
Olivia Cronk, Bookslut
Lasky’s poems are violent and enigmatic, but also sensual and light-handed. Her often casual tone is balanced by themes of self-exploration, astonishment and confusion. Awe is a search for both God and love; God’s love, but mundane love too. Lasky is most successful at her simplest successful and perhaps even awesome
Sarah Egelman, Local IQ
You get the feeling that Lasky’s voice is one we’re going to be hearing from for a long time, and AWE has that irreplaceable quality all good books have: Once you pick it up, it’s hard to put down.
Jay Robinson, Barn Owl Review
Lasky is a poet of amazing phrases and clear insights in such short, contained bursts, poking through and past what isn’t important, straight into the essence of things.
Dorothea Lasky’s first book, Awe, is an impressive, powerful and eclectic collection of poems that, at its best, fuses a sense of religious wonder, confusion and - surprisingly enough - faith with a conversational sincerity akin to Frank O’Hara.
Jess Grover, InDigest
The logic in these poems is surreal yet wholly felt. Through her specific, strange, and always riveting voice, Lasky reveals truths about the self in relation to all that inspires awe, be it a sexual relationship and its unraveling or metaphysical confrontations with holiness. These poems read as prophetic and yet incredibly immediate. The poet honors her friendship with a named, real poet and God’s relationship with the souls of lovers. Despite the range of the collection, the poems feel of a piece because of the brave imagistic leaps throughout the works.
With an odd blend of brutality and delicacy, Dorothea Lasky constructs an entire individual psychology in 70 short pages. The tone is ingenue, direct, at times percussively flat. And it is completely engaged. There is seemingly no distance between speaker and speech, writer and word. It’s a complete investment that demands the same of the reader, and rewards it with vivid glimpses of the workings of a different mind, for the “I” here, quite refreshingly, makes no claim to universality. Instead, it flaunts its idiosyncrasies, and it is, after all, idiosyncrasies that are interesting... All in all, this poetry is extremely engaging--it’s fast, determined, and generous; it is not emotion recollected in tranquility, but emotion still in the grip of its own feeling, and believing in itself.
Cole Swenson, Lana Turner
Dorothea Lasky’s debut, Awe, has the force of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing”, the messiness of a battlefield amputation, the candor of a child who asks, “Were you born like that?”, and the craving of a customer who orders a banquet spread containing only marzipan and raw heart.
Stephanie Anderson, Growler Poetry Review
Dorothea Lasky is the author, most recently, of Animal, forthcoming in 2019 in the Bagley Wright Lecture Series. She is also the author of five full-length collections of poetry: Milk (Wave Books, 2018), Rome (Liveright/W.W. Norton, 2014), Thunderbird (Wave Books, 2012), Black Life (Wave Books, 2010), and AWE (Wave Books, 2007). She is also the author of six chapbooks: Matter: A Picturebook (Argos Books, 2012), The Blue Teratorn (Yes Yes Books, 2012), Poetry is Not a Project (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2010), Tourmaline (Transmission Press, 2008), The Hatmaker’s Wife (2006), Art (H_NGM_N Press, 2005), and Alphabets and Portraits (Anchorite Press, 2004). Born in St. Louis in 1978, her poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Boston Review, Columbia Poetry Review, Gulf Coast, The Laurel Review, MAKE magazine, Phoebe, Poets & Writers Magazine, The New Yorker, Tin House, The Paris Review, and 6x6, among other places. She is the co-editor of Open the Door: How to Excite Young People About Poetry (McSweeney's, 2013) and is a 2013 Bagley Wright Lecturer on Poetry. She holds a doctorate in creativity and education from the University of Pennsylvania, is a graduate of the MFA program for Poets and Writers at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and has been educated at Harvard University and Washington University. She has taught poetry at New York University, Wesleyan University, and Bennington College. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor of Poetry at Columbia University's School of the Arts and lives in New York City.
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