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Our Andromeda

4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  258 ratings  ·  46 reviews
"A heady, infectious celebration."--"The New Yorker"

"Shaughnessy's voice is smart, sexy, self-aware, hip . . . consistently wry, and ever savvy."--"Harvard Review"

Brenda Shaughnessy's heartrending third collection explores dark subjects--trauma, childbirth, loss of faith--and stark questions: What is the use of pain and grief? Is there another dimension in which our suffer
ebook, 96 pages
Published December 11th 2012 by Copper Canyon Press (first published October 16th 2012)
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(showing 1-30 of 755)
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Deborah Markus
A poem’s job is to be beautiful.

A poem’s job is not just to teach, but to make a reader eager to show up for class every day.

A poem’s truth should be at once stunningly obvious and blindingly original.

A poem should make us happy to slow down and savor in a world of fast-food writing.

Reading a poem should only be work in the sense that some people are lucky enough to have jobs they love so much they’d do them for free.

Reading a poem should be the kind of workout that makes you feel shaky but stro
James Murphy
Brenda Shaughnessy writes love poetry, I think. Not romantic love poetry, exactly. The long poem "Our Andromeda" which closes this volume and which lovingly imagines an alternate world where her son, Cal, who is seemingly disabled in some way and fragile, is heartbreakingly about a mother's love for her son. But Shaughnessy is in love with the world around her, too. Her poetry, while it recognizes the warts of the world, generously welcomes whatever she comes into contact with. She acknowledges ...more
I read this book of poetry collection again today, on Mother's Day. As a rendering of motherhood, it is so primal and inventive and pissy: "I know I am his mother, but I can't/ quite click on the word's essential aspects,/ can't denude the flora/ or disrobe the kind of housecoat/ "mother" always is. Something/ cunty, something used."

Shaughnessy loves words, their liquidity, playfulness, doubling, but she also mistrusts their naming of things. The book is best when she is pressing on that mistru
Shaughnessy plays wonderful with sound. Her poems beg to be read out loud. She conveys very specific ideas and images in a punchy way, making you wonder how you never thought of that before. She writes from a mother's perspective in this collection, and the title poem, over 20 pages long, is gripping, emotional, and beautiful.

Particular favorites include: "Streetlamps," "To My Twenty-Three-Year-Old Self," "To My Twenty-Four-Year-Old Self," "To My Twenty-Five-Year-Old Self," and "To My Twenty-Ei
This third collection of Shaughnessy's is as sure and sharp as an archer's eye, and it finds its targets. The mystery of love; the bravery of living; the hard-won wisdom that comes from experience. These poems feel deeply inhabited, soul-making, celebratory.
I'm torn between 4 and 5 stars on this one. There were some poems, particularly closer to the beginning, that seemed damn near perfect in tone, language, sound and meaning. Those alone seem worth 5 stars. I struggled with the latter half of the book though. Some of these intensely personal poems failed to grab me in, say, the way Jack Gilbert's work does. The long poem, "Our Andromeda," I wanted to love. It's heartbreaking in its opening, but what seemed an attempt to sustain that level of inten ...more
high points are suuuuper high. shaughnessy makes me most swoony when she turns the music up to 12.
Pete Mackey
A collection that continually tugs at the same set of topics -- self-image, love and its pains, longing for a different life (including for her child) -- and that likes to explore the possibilities of the ideas it's working on. It's a collection with wit, energy, and clever leaps of imagery. It's also seems to me a collection precisely of a young poet in this American time -- solipsistic, striving for originality. So while I found the collection charming and enjoyable, I couldn't escape the sens ...more
Eldonfoil TH*E Whatever Champion
Cosmopolitan lets me down again. That magazine has not recovered from the disaster of spring, 1882.
Melissa Barrett
A lovely book, rich in style. One of the major themes (parenting) I find to be less powerful than the word play, rhyme, and sonic edge found in so many poems.

Some favorite lines:

-A book that took too long to read but minutes to unread--that is--to forget.

-An idea like a stormcloud that does not spill / or arrive but moves silently in a direction. / Like a dark book in a long life with a vague / hope in a wood house with an open door.

-The books on the bookshelves are touching themselves / like v
I was introduced to Brenda Shaughnessy’s Interior with Sudden Joy by my MFA mentor and I was immediately caught by her cleverness and inclination to blend philosophy with poetry. While I enjoyed some poems in that collection, I tended to shy away by the big words she used. Then, her next collection Human Dark with Sugar is more accessible yet witty and spicy at the same time. Her Our Andromeda gives me mixed feelings and I think I should give an overall 3.5 stars to this book. My favorite sectio ...more
Fierce collection. Lucid and gripping.

"That loud hub of us,/ meat stub of us, beating us/ senseless."

"There are always places, none of them mine."

"Feelings seem like made-up things,/ though I know they're not."

"year after ancient,/ ridiculous year."

"That's what you get for believing in aliens,/ for replacing our earhorn of plenty/ with a megaphone of corpsedust."

"this world/ butted up against the next."

"Whatever meaning the word itself/ is covering, like underwear,/ that meaning is so mere and m
George Witte
I came to My Andromeda for personal reasons, having heard that some poems in the collection dealt with the circumstance of a difficult birth and its aftermath. The concluding title poem is extraordinary: a powerful, frank, angry, and deeply affecting tour de force about a mother, a father, and their son, as they seek abidance in an abruptly-alien world, and find it in an imaginary universe. Several other poems touch on the same subject, and though shorter are equally strong. I was less persuaded ...more
Amy  Eller Lewis
I don't read a lot of poetry, and not contemporary poetry at all. Perhaps I had my fill at workshops in my MFA program. I find so much of contemporary poetry to be just poems about how hard it is to make a poem. But these poems are About Things -- not just Abstract Things like "Love" or "Justice" or "Loss" (though they are about them too), but about Things That Happened. There is a SF-nal quality to them that I liked as well. Has happily put me on a poetry kick.
This book and "Metaphysical Dog" by Frank Bidart were the only two collections of poetry in the New York Times, 100 notable books of 2013. I didn't particularly like or get into Bidart's book, but his one is quite skillfully written with unusual and creative word use that I found quite interesting and illuminating. A great collection of poetry.
This was a good, highly readable, collection. Interesting and fun play on language where nouns and verbs are used as different parts of grammar. The classic themes are here, life and death, birth and dying, marriage and friendship. All good. The final very long poem, 22 pages, is amazing and needs to be read, no spoiler here.
Nicole Testa
I really enjoyed this book. I enjoyed the third section, "Our Andromeda" the most, and her poems to her younger self were particularly startling and resonant. Shaughnessy pays such close attention to the sound of her poetry, rather than just the images they show, and is playful with her use of words in a way that made her poetry even more enjoyable to read.
Gabriel Oak
Maybe my favorite book of poetry this year. These poems are so tightly crafted, with rich internal rhymes and achingly perfect lines. They're often funny, and they just resonate with me somehow. Really loved this collection.
Bill Tarlin
There are lots of great poems in this book. Shaughnessy's signature internal rhymes and personifications are engaging. Like most collections the poems that are just "OK" are disappointing because I want to be wowed every time. But enough deliver to make this highly recommended.
What makes the book essential is the long title poem that concludes the book. It is witty, painful, angry and exultant; sometimes all at once. Our Andromeda is a cry for escape to another galaxy where the stupid fact of hu
Mme. Bookling ~
I stumbled into the poetry of Shaugnessy via Cheryl Strayed's FB page, who recommended it. I gave my daughter the middle name 'Andromeda' so I am always interested when I see it chosen as a name for something else. I wasn't prepared for the heart-break and beauty of her poetry, especially the title poem. Though I hate to draw comparisons (namely because I hate it when people do that with my own writing), but I kept vibing Plath in her poems, seeing the flatness of blunt thoughts which are simult ...more
Adam Wilson
Holy shit. This book destroyed me. So full of pain and anger and love. So raw and ugly and beautifully alive. Holy shit.
Amy Pence
Poetry? Not to my taste. Shaughnessy can write a thoughtful essay on serious issues, which is where I first encountered her, but breaking plainly written prose into lines does not a poem make.
Dc Lozano
this brilliant book of poetry was the best part of my weekend. and it was a good weekend.
Heather Shumway
In a word: depressing. I guess it's just not my style ...
Saw a reading with her and Mary Ruefle. Delightful.
Winter Sophia Rose
Intense, Heartbreaking & Eloquent!
Marina Sofia
Inspiring, this collection has poems of all types: from the playful and linguistically inventive (particularly for those among us who are more auditively inclined) to the deeply moving pathos of the title poem, which had me in tears even while queuing for 1.5 hours at US borders. Captivating voice and a willingness to be brave and experiment, rather than showing off.
Love her, but didn't love this collection as much as I was hoping to. The subject matter is heartbreaking, but I guess maybe nothing will match her first book for me. The more accessible, conversational language that used to perfectly dilute her intense vocabulary & dense musicality seems to have become the default in her last two books, making them easier to digest but less strange and less thrilling. BUT I STILL LOVE HER. Gonna start this sad book over and read it again.
Good, but I sometimes felt that even these excellent poems could have gone a little deeper. What I like about this book, though, is that even in the pieces that appear to have common, everyday subjects, like "Magi," have dark and sharp edges that leave one surprised without succumbing to gore or cheap thrills. Her thoughts about parenting in poems like "Hearth" remind me of Sharon Olds.

I hope this poet becomes more famous.
Our Andromeda was surprising and WONDERFUL. It is a poetry collection that envisions a parallel existence of each of us in the Andromeda galaxy, somehow free of our Earthly prejudices and fears. The writing is beautiful. In particular, the last long piece about Shaughnessy's son is heart-rending and really clear and sharp about her experiences with him. It's a wonderful collection, highly recommend.
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Brenda Shaughnessy was born in Okinawa, Japan, in 1970 and grew up in Southern California. She received her B.A. in literature and women's studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and she earned an M.F.A. at Columbia University.

She is the author of Human Dark with Sugar (Copper Canyon Press, 2008), winner of the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, and Interior with
More about Brenda Shaughnessy...
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“All gifts are riddles, all lives/are in the middle of mother-lives.” 4 likes
“How anyone becomes herself/is a mystery.” 3 likes
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