from "Enormously Sad" . . . Sad, so sad-compared to what? To your earlier more oblivious state? It never was oblivious enough- always those presentiments of sadness prickling the limbic. Now a voice says, "Get outside" "yourself, go walk on the flats. The tide's gone out " but your little metal detector will detect little metallic coins of enormous sadness in the teeming wet sand, and then, the tide will come back, erasing, cleansing And you, standing there in the salty scouring air- will you still be" enormously sad," While the other world, outside your tiny purview, struck by iron, reels? World of intentional iron, pure savage organized iron of the world, it hasn't the time that you have for your puny enormous sadness. Widely acclaimed for expanding the stylistic boundaries of both the narrative and meditative lyric, Gail Mazur's poetry crackles with verbal invention as she confronts the inevitable upheavals of a lived life. "Zeppo's First Wife," which includes excerpts from Mazur's four previous books, as well as twenty-two new poems, is epitomized by the worldly longing of the title poem, with its searching poignancy and comic bravura. Mazur's explorations of this fallen world, this loony world are deeply moving acts of empathy by a singular moral sensibility evident from the earliest poem included here, the much-anthologized Baseball, a stunning bird s-eye view of human foibles and passions. Clear-eyed, full of paradoxical griefs and appetites, her poems brave the most urgent subjects from the fraught luscious Eden of the ballpark, to the fragility of our closest human ties, to the implications for America in a world where power and war are cataclysmic for the strong as well as the weak.
About the Author
Gail Mazur's most recent book, "They Can't Take That Away from Me," was a finalist for the 2001 National Book Award. She is Distinguished Writer in Residence in Emerson College's Writing, Literature, and Publishing Program and founding director of the Blacksmith House Poetry Center. She has won fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Bunting Insitute of Radcliffe College as well as the St. Botolph Club Foundation Distinguished Artist Award.
"A ''new and selected'' collection of poetry affords the reader many pleasures a single volume of poetry rarely does. Looming large among these is the chance to track the writer’s growth as an artist. And, because of the broader canvas, one might get from a “new and selected” group of poems a firmer sense of the writer’s preoccupations in theme and subject matter. Probably the greatest pleasure, however, is the chance to pin down what has drawn one to the work time and again. This became apparent to me as I read the nearly three hundred pages of Zeppo’s First Wife by Gail Mazur, a ''new and selected'' collection that gathers twenty-two new poems and a very generous selection from Ms. Mazur’s four previous books. Judging by my marginal notes and underlining, I am invariably taken by the exquisitely crafted endings of her poems. Book by book, year after year, her poems startle and move the reader with their capacity to end on a note that belongs to her and no one else. Gail Mazur, it seems, is a master of poetic closure. . . . I think the endings of Gail Mazur''s poems, no matter how sad, frightened, or perplexed, offer us a luminous quality . . . a quality that marks these new and selected poems from beginning to end."—Fred Marchant, Provincetown Arts -Fred Marchant
"We dream of living on poetry''s high ground, the giddy air and wide prospect that distance us from the drear of everyday life. Yet the brisk, eloquent, and quirky poems of Gail Mazur''s Zeppo''s First Wife may prove that there is more oxygen at ground level. Mazur finds a magic in the everyday, the delights and disorders that characterize a postmodern and multi-everything America."—David Gewanter, Tikkun -David Gewanter
“Audacity and modesty: In Mazur''s work, those apparent opposites reveal their secret kinship: Modesty from its place on the sidelines can see through the conventional sham of the rules, and audacity has the confidence to embrace the plain, ordinary truth. In the face of demons or emptiness, Mazur offers a song...Part of the pleasure in these poems is their simultaneous large scope and measured, deceptively quiet voice."”—Robert Pinsky, “Poet’s Choice,” Washington Post