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And Her Soul Out Of Nothing

4.2 of 5 stars 4.20  ·  rating details  ·  587 ratings  ·  44 reviews
Both contemporary and other-worldly, Davis's lyrical poetry is a fearless expression of the spirit which defines the very essence of our beings.
Paperback, 112 pages
Published October 15th 1997 by University of Wisconsin Press
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I've acquired a dozen or so poetry books in the last two weeks and the poems contained in And Her Soul Out Of Nothing by Olena Kalytiak Davis are the best. She won the 1997 Brittingham Prize in Poetry for this collection. Here is a sample of her work - The title is "It's Shaped Like A Fork."

This house is a mess. Full
of solid notions
that keep turning into objects:
this simple sadness
that's shaped like a fork
and the vague fear that crusts
these dishes. I'm vacuuming
over this grass-like pain.
that isn't fireweed

that's just someone thawing
somebody else's life with a blowtorch
We sat around trying to name
the things that do not exist.
Feels a bit like Plath (before she delved all the way down) with a tinge of Tsvetaeva and a whole lot of modern, urban feel to it. She describes herself as having "hipbones/instead of children" and writes poems about puking in parking lots, Wal-Mart workers, her mother's death. Some are better than others, of course. And one is excellent.

"The Scaffolding Inside You" is one of those poems that most writers never manage, and few manage more than one. Relentless, pitiless, perfectly pared down. It
Fabulous. One of the most amazing poetry experiences I've ever had. It won the Brittingham Prize in 1997, and might as well continue to win every year.
On this snow day—and as a belated Happy New Year post—here are my 10 best Library reads of 2010, with thanks to the great Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and its staff:

This first collection—winner of the 1997 Brittingham Prize in Poetry—is that rare thing for a book of poetry, a page-turner. From “Like Working at Wal Mart”: “She heard sad things all day/long in the usual turning/of phrases until it felt/everything she was touching/was just a neatly packaged beauty/supply or a deeply discounted/d
Christy Sibila
When I first read Davis' poetry, it felt oddly familiar. Then I realized, it was as if I had written these poems myself. I do not claim to be nearly half as talented as Davis, but her haunting, spot-on lyricism is something to which I aspire.
From "The Outline I Inhabit". "In the ghost-making fog the phone rings./ Sure, I'm unnerved, but I listen./I strain for meaning. So when I hang up/everything's sore. When I hang up/I have to write down everything/that hurts./Imagine what Pain says:/"I'll ke
I LOVE this book. All my poetry friends know how much I love this book. I can read it over and over again and still cry every time I read the poem "the panic of birds" (and friends) because the language possesses (as does the language of the whole book) this amazing balance of despair and interestingness, plus the music of the whole thing. Omfg. As long as I have Olena Kalytiak Davis and Laurel Snyder, everything will be okay.
Mar 04, 2013 Daisy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: poems
lines taken out of context:

When it's this windy doesn't it seem impossible
to grow old?

from "Who Cares About Aperture"

I can't pretend to understand all of it but I want to, so that's something. I like a lot of these. Especially "I've Always Been One To Delight In The Misfortune Of Others."
Read on Calhoun street senior year of college with Jimmy and Misty saying oh yeah I like that line about the punk rock and the flower with the white body. We met Davis and boy was she nutty and Alaskan.
I took my time with these poems. They are beautiful! Along the lines of Rilke and Carver. The paper that started as a bookmark has been reduced to a nub by all the slivers torn off to mark pages.
Loved these poems in all their brilliant complexity, especially "The Gauze of Flowers, A Love Poem".
Jul 05, 2009 Lynn rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry
One of my favorite poetry collections!!
I'm not actually finished reading this book. I can actually never stop reading this book or give it back to my sister. I love it too much.

Ok, the title and the cover suck. But the poems are painfully good. I want to memorize them and never shower again and mutter them to people I pass on the street.
Nicholas Rombes
"but you can no longer divide your thoughts into layers / and the flowers now come in waves"
p. 51
Olena Kalytiak Davis has the enviable ability to take incidents, fragments, and moments from the realm of the literal and quotidian to the transformative, often before you have even realized it. Although a few of the poems didn't reach me, the majority created that irresistible mood of longing, the soul-deep inarticulate kind that she manages quite beautifully to articulate.
david blumenshine
where it is high, it is high.
where low, it is not low so much as not as insightful.
the language could be more toppled, but it's relatable in a warm way even when the proceedings are, and they are so often, cold. that's not fair. they are not cold, rather cold situations dealt with warmth in at-odds attempts to un-riddle.
I finally got this book back after lending it to a friend ten years ago. Some friend! And what I found on rereading it is that the poems all center around a uniform tone, and that tone just isn't as interesting as I remember it. There are some interesting things that happen in the poems, but no poem stands out to me.
Atmospheric, confessional poetry about a woman- I feel- trapped inside the meanings of every day objects, the discrepancy between what is suppose to happen and what is happening.
I enjoyed this, but not nearly as much as I expected to. I don't know why, it's impossible to evaluate poetry.
Kimberly Rogers
No date because I haven't stopped reading this book since I was first introduced to it in 2002. A book of lyric poems set vaguely in Alaska-- that capture the feeling of long, long winters where the sky and the ground are exactly the same shade of white (yet the author can tell them apart).
Carly Crosby
This is a fantastic example of modern poetry. Davis holds nothing back as she looks at how her childhood and young adult life affected her self image and interactions with those she cares for. she has a dynamic grasp of the uses of language the it shows on the page
Amazingly complex poetry, to be truthful most of it went over my head. I wish we would have had more time in class to unpack more of the poems. If this helps, the women in my class really liked it, and made connections with the writing. Me, not so much.
Sep 30, 2007 Melissa rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those patient with contemporary poetry
I wanted to like this book more than I actually did. A few of the poems were beautiful, many were strange and begged rereading, but they all slid together in a way that left me unmoved at the end of the collection.
The poems Davis presents here are striking images of life: what it could be, and what it is to some. At first glance, many of the poems seem to be a stream of incoherent words, but time tells the tale.
okd is insane. and that is exactly what i love about her. while i can taste her distaste at the form of some of these poems, they never fail to astonish. this chica is my kinda poet. rock on okd!
This is one of my favorites. I have read it straight through more times than I can count, but I find myself reading and re-reading anyway.
hauntingly delicate. Davis captures both gratitude and longing in every day acts. This is a favorite I will return to.
A great book of poems, especially the dream sequence: feels truly like a dream. I hope she writes many more.

A lovely, and accurate, depiction of depression. The language is beautiful, but almost too melancholy for comfort.
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American poet Olena Kalytiak Davis was born in 1963. She is the author of two poetry collections: 'And Her Soul Out Of Nothing' and 'Shattered Sonnets, Love Cards, And Other Off-And-Back Handed Importunities.'

Her first book won the Brittingham Prize. Her other honors include a a 1996 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award in poetry, and a 2004 Guggenheim Fellowship in poetry.

Her poems have been publ
More about Olena Kalytiak Davis...
Shattered Sonnets Love Cards and Other Off and Back Handed Importunities On the Kitchen Table from Which Everything Has Been Hastily Removed The Poem She Didn't Write and Other Poems And Her Soul Out of Nothing

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“The situation is grave: the way we lean over each other, the way years later we emerge: hunchbacked, hooded, with full grown tender things called souls.” 24 likes
“I thought: please don’t grow
familiar. I think I said it out loud:
Please don’t let me love you
that horrible way.”
More quotes…