Thaw

64 pp.

Fordham Universiy Press, 2001
ISBN: 0–8232–2168–7/ hardcover
ISBN: 0–8232–2169–5/paperback

Winner of the 2000 Poets Out Loud Prize, Fordham University

The landscape of Thaw is America, but the vast field of language is bravely Shakespearean. Julie Sheehan’s poems roil through catalpa, maraud through familial and domestic brakes, and, ultimately, brim to the top of the old earthen pot. As Marie Ponsot observes, “She simply refuses to deny us any of the joyful fluency of our all-time, polyglot language. She has, therefore, a wildly good time as discoverer and maker and worker of these poems.” Thaw celebrates the ingredients, practice, and serving up of the mortal banquet, from pudding to bone.

Thaw was the second winner of the annual Poets Out Loud Prize. The Prize is awarded each year to a book of poetry published by Fordham University Press in coordination with Fordham’s Poets Out Loud program. Marie Ponsot was the judge for the 2000 Prize. Her introduction is included in the volume.

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“Okay, so this is a brave book. These poems wander the crowded rooms of the world and find God in the small details. Or maybe these poems just hope God is in the details. Or maybe these poems teach us how to ignore and be ignored by God, whatever God is. In any case, these are not sterile psalms, but passionate, messy, contradictory, humorous, painful songs of the (dare I say it?) soul.”

— Sherman Alexie

 

“Julie Sheehan’s poetry, at its best and most characteristic, exuberantly returns us to Walt Whitman (the real Whitman, and not the barbaric imitators) and to Walt’s grand parodist in Fernando Pessoa’s Alvaro de Campos. There are ten splendors here: “For a Mother and Daughter,” “Swing Set, 1972,” “Quaking Aspen,” “104º,” “Almost Summer Heat,” “Hats of Brooklyn,” “The Brooklyn Museum,” “Cast Stones,” “Summer Chapels,” and “Smale Byrdys Y-Stwde.” They establish a voice, a stance, a vision, a joyous evasion of the negative. Despite all the academic impostors, inchoate rhapsodes, and shrill ideologues, I nevertheless rejoice, because Julie Sheehan’s poems compel me to rejoice.”

— Harold Bloom

 

“There is a useful mythic analogy for the action of this gaily disconcerting poet: Isis searching the world for limbs of a dismembered Osiris which she must re-member in order to possess the world’s body. Any rhetoric, every patois serves the poet’s turn as the mourning, exultant goddess whose specialty it is to incarnate as well the disjecta membra of her consort: “I am flung apart…splayed so wide my arms embrace the lit-up sky.” Sheehan’s Deep murmurs with many voices, the cries of lovers and children and all the echoes of old rhetorics she reassembles in her wilde Jag. I cannot get the music of that chase out of my ears.”

— Richard Howard