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Lost Alphabet

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  37 ratings  ·  6 reviews
“This poet brings a sparkling consciousness to the page and an exciting new voice to American poetry.”—Library Journal

“Most appealing is Olstein's sensitive, quietly pained and earnest tone, w hich, more than the unusual subject, is the real star of this book.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

In Lisa Olstein’s daring new book, an unnamed lepidopterist—living in a hut on t
Paperback, 96 pages
Published June 1st 2009 by Copper Canyon Press
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Open Loop Press
Culture asks much of the writer: filter the cacophony, exceed vernacular, deliver art. The writer may use familiar language to build an extraordinary world, to make an unusual character an analog for the self, to transform that self into a friend. She may excel at documentation, recording observations in exquisite lines that juxtapose agricultural ritual with scientific discovery, interior reflection with external reproach. Poet Lisa Olstein is this writer. In “Lost Alphabet” (Copper Canyon, 200 ...more
Oh, my.

I wandered through the marvel that is Portland Powell's Blue Room poetry section (rows & rows; shelves & shelves), curious to see what contemporary women writers had "staff recommendation" notes applied to their books.

Not many. Even for Powells. Harumph.

But there is Lisa Olstein -- and I am thrilled that I purchased this Copper Canyon book, a prose poetry collection. Still in the middle of it, but here is one taste (at Verse Daily): and a
from Lost Alphabet by Lisa Olstein:

(Reviewer's Note: Please imagine this as block text...)

[some superior heaven]

Small crowds in the distance. It is the same for emergency as
for celebration: clots of bodies gathering and dispersing. A
boy lies dead in a field. I don't know what killed him. I know
his face, his habit of walking. We never spoke, but this was
not unfriendly. He was found and his family was brought.
One by one they move into the field and lie beside him. He
will never enter their home aga
The best narrative of persona poems I've encountered so far. It's written from the perspective of a lepidopterist (someone who studies moths), and is so personal and beautiful that I felt like I was in the hut with the narrator, recording every minute details of the insects' wings.
More please!
Achey and opaque.
The fragility of moths (and life and self) given in delicate paragraphs.
What a tiny perch, but with it I felt like I was flying in this hut.
Lovely! I am still intrigued by the character Ilya, who wasn't even the main one. Definitely will read more by this poet.
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