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The Exchange: Poems

3.56  ·  Rating Details  ·  34 Ratings  ·  8 Reviews
“Black’s voice is startling, jagged and implacable, and [her poetry] is steep, precipitous and dazzling.”—Los Angeles Times Book Review

I took care of myself. I took care
Of myself, thinking much too often

I took care of someone else.
Everything feels like payment.
—from “Pay Attention”

In The Exchange, Sophie Cabot Black explores the surprising interplay between mortality and
Paperback, 88 pages
Published May 7th 2013 by Graywolf Press
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Daniel Klawitter
Feb 16, 2015 Daniel Klawitter rated it really liked it
The Descent is a better overall collection in my opinion, but this book certainly contains some blisteringly spare and raw work. Chemotherapy was one of my favorites:

by Sophie Cabot Black

My friend is going through the fire on his knees,
His hands, crossing the entire field of it;
Once in a while he calls out, bewildered,

The other side unclear, wanting to just
Lie down and wait among the scattered stones.
Unimaginable heat---he pants, lost in the light

Of what keeps happening---think water
Dec 12, 2015 SmarterLilac rated it really liked it
So tastily...genius.

It's not often I revise one of my reviews. Since I reread this book and found it to be spectacular, I wanted to come back here and give The Exchange what it's due. Amazing work, so focused and so genuine. This examination of everything modern life takes from us, as well as the critical problems of our time (economic stress, greed, health and healthcare crisis) is probing, ponderous and satisfying. Especially in its refusal to gloss over reality, something I can always count o
Apr 04, 2015 Jason rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Who knew you could write poetry about the financial industry and somehow relate it to the struggles of overcoming cancer? Apparently, that is what Sophie Cabot Black does in this book of poetry. I must admit that reading poetry is so hard and it took me a very long time to derive a vague meaning from most of the poems. In at least one circumstance, I thought one poem seemed like a re-imagining of an Old Testament bible story until I saw an end note dedicating it to former President George W. Bus ...more
Aug 20, 2013 Eric rated it liked it
My first foray into poetry did not disappoint.

In The Exchange, Ms. Black blends together powerful and depressing themes so deftly that I experienced a time delay from when I put down the book to when I noticed that my soul was crushed by her sparse prose.

Caveat emptor- Death, the meaningless pursuit of profits, and loss are all recurring themes in this brutally honest examination of the human condition so if you have the emotional reserve to get through it, it's highly recommended.
May 26, 2014 Kathy rated it it was amazing
One of the finest books of poetry I have read in years!
Oct 02, 2013 James rated it did not like it

I just finished Sophie Cabot Black’s collection of poetry, “The Exchange,” and I didn’t have the slightest idea what I was reading most of the time.

I’ve been reading a lot of modern poetry lately, and some of it is just awful. Generally, when I come upon something written in my native language, I expect to derive some basic sense of it while reading it. But some modern poetry, such as Black’s, is so disjointed and meaningless that I have to wonder if I’m experiencing what dementia or Alzheimer’s
Aug 16, 2013 Kelly rated it liked it
I had forgotten how hard it is to read poetry. I didn't think much of this book until I started reading the poems aloud like a crazy person. (I hope my neighbors enjoyed that, since I was on the balcony!) Still definitely missed a lot of the meaning, but the language was beautiful and there were a few images that really stuck with me.

My favorites:
...each terminal dark
With how today is not tomorrow.
(from "Palms Facing Out and Away From the Body")

...To begin again
Is to have no idea where this wi
Nov 05, 2013 Angela rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
Ms. Black needs to use more concrete nouns,and more specific imagery.
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Sophie Cabot Black is the author of two previous poetry collections, The Descent, winner of the Connecticut Book Award, and The Misunderstanding of Nature, winner of the Norma Farber First Book Award. Her next book, The Exchange, is forthcoming in 2013. Her poems appear in The New Yorker, The Nation, and The Paris Review, among other journals. She lives in New England.
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