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Kyrie: Poems
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Kyrie: Poems

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  142 ratings  ·  17 reviews
In this mosaic of sonnets, her fifth collection, Ellen Bryant Voigt takes on a monumental challenge: to conjure up the influenza pandemic of 1918-19, a little-recorded event that killed 25 million worldwide, half a million in America alone. The Nation calls Kyrie "an astonishing collection . . . so spare and tightly woven, yet so mindful of the cadences of the speaking voi ...more
Paperback, 80 pages
Published September 17th 1996 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published June 1st 1995)
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Sherry Chandler
I talk about this book here and here.

It is not an easy book to read but well worth while. I think it has had a considerable effect on my own writing.
A poignant collection of poems about the influenza epidemic of 1918. Due to the timing of this epidemic, a lot of the poems are also concerned with WWI. In my opinion, Ellen Bryant Voigt is one of the best poets of our time.
The Spanish flu is one of the most haunting and horrifying events in American history, and it is here encapsulated in a perfect, frantic, desperate flurry of words, thoughts, and people, characters fleshed out in hints and suggestions. At times, Kyrie reads like a finely wrought history, others like Johnny Got His Gun put through a wringer of disease and time. The poems use unapologetically harrowing and unforgettable images to sear their way into the mind's eye, like that of cutting the cat's t ...more
A sequence of linked blank verse sonnets which addresses the repercussions of the 1918 influenza epidemic.

This is a book that provides examples of crafting... sonnets of reflections; sonnets about different people, Mattie, the Doctor, sonnets that are strictly metaphor.
The epilogue, written in six tercets draws the curtain with a snow storm-- first the window pane, filled with sleet,
"loud sheets of it", then the view of the blurred horizon and stone walls, "made // from what the earth cast up a
If you want a reference for how many ways to vary a sonnet this is a must-read. Her craft is stunning in places, though I also felt at times the form was forced for the sake of the sequence.

The subject matter is heartwrenching and convicting. There are moments when Voigt shines: the language catches you right at the throat of your heart. Her ability to evoke emotion THROUGH her restraint is both worthy of admiration and of an attempt at emulation.
Ellen Bryant Voight's series of sonnets about the Spanish influenza of 1918 is worth reading, if only for some personal insight into this historical (but often forgotten) event. The US death toll (according to a note found inside the book) was half a million dead. While I was sometimes a bit lost about the speakers of the some of the poems, other poems really captured the confusion and grief of this time period.
This poetic history of the influenza pandemic of 1918 was incredible. Each poem is beautiful and works with the others to create a narrative in which the reader can live. A writer of historical poems myself, I found this to be inspiring and intriguing, and I hope to read more of Voigt's work soon.
I am using the poems in this book as a model for a project on Frederick Douglass for Southern Lit. It was okay... I certainly have no interest in keeping the book. I did enjoy the theming and narrative arc that ran throughout.
a set of broken sonnets and other verse about the 1918 pandemic. The opening poem (not the prologue) is one of the creepier poems I've encountered. And I mean creepy in a good way.
I can't really put into words how good this collections is. It's weaving stories, multiply lives together. I never seen poetry used as this powerful of a story telling medium.
Peter Gaines
A tremendous piece of craftsmanship. A study in perspectives, in voice, in the sonnet as a form. I plan to teach the book as a whole for the first time this spring.
An incredible idea: to speak in the voices of people affected by the influenza epidemic in 1918 & 1919. The amazing thing is that it actually works, really well.
i did a project on this once, which may have biased my view of it towards the negative.... but it's interesting, certainly.
Kirsten Kinnell
A lovely book of short poems with speakers caught up in the early 20th century flu epidemic. Nearly perfect.
Mary Silvernale Shook
Read for April 2010 book club, Jennifer's selection.
Artifice Magazine
Quite an accomplishment, really.
Quite an accomplishment, really.
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Poetry Readers Ch...: Kyrie by Ellen Bryant Voigt 5 10 May 10, 2012 07:37AM  
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