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This review is taken from PN Review 246, Volume 45 Number 4, March - April 2019.

Cover of The Stars of Earth
David C. Ward
Love and Making
Emily Grosholz, The Stars of Earth (Word Galaxy Press) £28.95
It’s an effective tactic in an argument or an important meeting to pitch your voice lower. Don’t compete with the noise but change the terms by going quieter, forcing people to listen – and perhaps reflect. More widely, in these clamorous times, reticence and restraint model a way through the noise, another way of speaking that contains the possibility of remaking or adapting traditional values for modern (or postmodern) times. Even in the small ambit of Poetry World, there seems always to be a buzz of self-promotion and attention seeking that accompanies the work itself and sometimes even blocks it. The signal-to-noise ratio is much less than it is in politics or sports but nonetheless it’s still there in the literary world as a kind of background tinnitus that occasionally rises to the level of deafening. Poets, of course, are no strangers to drama but sometimes the scene stealing can get distracting or exasperating.

The American poet Emily Grosholz has crafted a career that seems unaffected by literary fashion or even current events. Perhaps because her ‘major’ occupation is that of philosophy professor she is freed to do what she wants in her ‘minor’ career as a poet. (Another poet I admire, John Koethe is also a philosophy professor and his poetry has a liberating facility to it that I find temperamentally similar to Grosholz’s even though they are stylistically different.) Poetry as an avocation can be liberating, or at least it seems to be for Grosholz given the quality and quantity of the verse collected in The ...

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