The Life (Penguin Poets) (Paperback)
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“An exquisite book of poetry with a lens on motherhood that’s existential, funny and tender.” —Elle
Acclaimed poet Carrie Fountain deepens her exploration of the domestic in a new collection of playful and wise poems
The poems in Carrie Fountain's third collection, The Life, exist somewhere, as Rilke says, between “our daily life” and “the great work”—an interstitial space where sidelong glances live alongside shouts to heaven. In elegant, colloquial language, Fountain observes her children dressing themselves in fledgling layers of personhood, creating their own private worlds and personalities, and makes room for genuine marvels in the midst of routine. Attuned to the delicate, fleeting moments that together comprise a life, these poems offer a guide by which to navigate the signs and symbols, and to pilot if not the perfect life, the only life, the life we are given.
About the Author
Carrie Fountain was born and raised in Mesilla, New Mexico. Fountain’s books include the National Poetry Series award winner Burn Lake and Instant Winner. Her poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Poetry, and Tin House, among others. She received her MFA at the James A. Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin where she was a fellow. She lives with her husband, playwright and novelist Kirk Lynn, in Austin, Texas.
Praise for The Life:
“Fountain’s poems are [...] beloved for their warmth and intimacy . . . Her work is lyrical and relevant.” —The Washington Post
“Fleeting, wondrous, clear.” —Ms. Magazine
“I write to you about The Life with tear tracks on my cheeks. Not even old ones, because every time I look back at one of the pieces that make up Carrie Fountain's third collection of poetry, the whole process starts anew . . . Fountain is skillfully tying minute, personal experiences to our biggest quandaries about human nature to devastating effect . . . I'm very grateful to Fountain for finally bursting the stormcloud hovering above me. It's a long-awaited rain.” —Rosalind Faires, Austin Chronicle
“Spectacular . . . reveals a young mother’s cluttered life and a glimmering world of faith shaken, stirred, and movingly reaffirmed . . . Every poem is a marvel of craft; Fountain displays exquisite judgment, with each image, figure, question, paradox, snippet of overheard conversation, and philosophical meditation finding its perfect place. The effect is quietly exhilarating. Humor and heartbreak intertwine . . . Through the alchemy of honest inquiry and clever wordplay [...] Fountain makes good on the transformative promise of poetry, ‘making one/ thing become another’ in this remarkable work.” —Publishers Weekly, STARRED review
“With its wonder at daily living, The Life lures you into its quiet world only to ignite in abundance, ferocity, and the aching truth of survival. Fountain's stunning poems illuminate the complexities of motherhood and marriage with a clear, lyrical voice that speaks to us all.” —Ada Limón, author of The Carrying
“Life here has been caught, still squirming, on poet Fountain’s lines. She lets her haul go, releases and casts another line, one after another, big and little fish, small or wild or turning lines. Each catch released as if the fisher forgot her hunger for a split second and it came back, ravenous for her. This poet’s voice works the way any great art works: so beautiful it hurts maybe too much that it seems dangerous. But it’s not like 'any great art'— it’s this one book, this voice, this life, the only one we have. And this book changed it.” —Brenda Shaughnessy, author of The Octopus Museum
“As the poet herself (mother, teacher, partner, citizen) must, these poems begin in chaotic dailiness, then swerve into sudden clarity of attention. They stun with pleasurable, often funny, at times devastating recognition. A single life, of one struggling, searching being, becomes ‘the’ life: what is despite our differences common. We can all recognize each other and ourselves in these marvelous poems.” —Matthew Zapruder, author of Father’s Day
“Carrie Fountain has done it again—and again, I’m in awe, like a kid watching a magician and hoping to understand the tricks. How, reading this book, can I be so grounded in the life—its paper valentines, its grocery runs, its dead pet fish that ‘flash like money one last time / before vanishing down the drain”—but also be taken elsewhere, beyond? In poems that explore motherhood, selfhood, marriage, faith and belief, and the deep loneliness of being human, Fountain celebrates love and family while also acknowledging that we are traveling alone toward wherever it is we are going: ‘It is unbearable, and though / it is unbearable, I bear it.’ Perhaps, as she writes, there is no such thing as perfect, only ‘good enough,’ but The Life seems evidence to the contrary. To me this book is perfect.” —Maggie Smith, author of Good Bones and Keep Moving