THE VOLCANO SEQUENCE

University of Pittsburgh Press, 2002 


The volcano sequence is one of the those poems the world of literature occasionally has the good fortune to receive which doesn't so much sum up a life, as embody it. Ostriker's spiritual consciousness is abundant, complex, she has many moral sympathies and many symbolic selves to enact her curiosities and compassion. Her ruminations and ethical queries range from the world of the bible, to India, classical Greece and most urgently to our own imperfect dominion, as it is lived in the mind and the body, in passion and despair. This is a poem with a voice of its own; it is a prayer to God, and a hymn of accusation for the lapses of divinity; it is a psalm of praise for the life of the flesh, and a mourning for life's fleetingness. Most importantly, Ostriker finds, and offers us, a heartening solace in the rigor of her regard.” —C. K. Williams .

 
“Ostriker is our morning-after psalmist; our wild, justice-starved, embodied, dazzling intelligence in its unending argument with itself, the world, and God. And she is our latter-day Ariadne: hers the "red thread" of the living blood line-- entrails, tradition, umbilicus-- what tethers us to all our sources-- pulsing, torn and essential connection.” —Eleanor Wilner

In American spiritual poetry, there is nothing to match its sweep and power until you go back to Emily Dickinson writing in the 1860s. This is a book to be cherished, written about, argued over, read and reread for years.” —Women’s Review of Books, July 2002

“...A brave and powerful interrogation of desire for love, for justice, for God, in which the rigor of her intelligence is beautifully matched by the passion of her questing.”—Dennis Loy Johnson

“What does American Jewish poetry sound like? At its best, it can sound like Alicia Suskin Ostriker . . . For the reader, who has come dangerously close to the volcano, who has followed through questions and answers, there is a sense of accomplishment, of breathing out, but also a feeling of pleasure, of having heard a series of difficult but beautiful songs.”—Aviya Kushner, Jerusalem Post, 12/13/02

“Ostriker, an essential voice in American letters, is on fire in her tenth volume of poetry, a wildly expressive dialogue with the God of the Old Testament. ... Ostriker witnesses births and watches her mother grow old in poems that are urgent, seamless, and searing, utterly thrilling in their forthrightness, soulfulness, and incandescence.”—Booklist, 3/1/02


To Order:

University of Pittsburgh Press