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You are Happy

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  178 ratings  ·  13 reviews
Hardcover, 96 pages
Published December 31st 1974 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 1974)
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Life Affecting/Perspective Changing Books
14th out of 33 books — 18 voters
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Apr 23, 2011 Eirin rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2011
This book of poetry has become one of my favourites. From the start I instantly understood I would love Atwood's poetry. I haven't read any of her other fiction, but I surely will.

The poetry is both moving, sensual, sad, angry and at times even funny. I love how she covers such vast topics, yet manages to make the book feel whole and interconnected. Her Circe/Mud Poems were delicious to the literary feminist in me, and everything else appealed to everything else in me, simply. The language flow
The Circe poems are some of the most incredible things I've ever read. I come back to them every few years and read them obsessively, over and over, for a day or two. A wonderful commentary on ancient epics, the power of story, the role of women in heroic tales, and so much more.
There’s something very friendly and pleasing about these small poetry collections, the way they can be carried around and dipped into as one has a moment here and a moment there. I quite enjoyed the structure of this! It starts off with the ironic, sad "You Are Happy" section, full of poems of loss and endings and fights and similar negative emotions, then it moves on to the "Songs of the Transformed," funny, joyful poems, then we move on to "Circe/Mud Poems," poems about the transformer Circe h ...more
It's 1974. Can this seemingly insecure poet really be the brilliant Margaret Atwood of the future? Why yes. "Songs of the Transformed" and "Circe/Mud Poems" already contain the the DNA that will evolve (or rather be genetically engineered) into MaddAddam's pigoons:

This is what you changed me to:
a greypink vegetable with slug
eyes, buttock
incarnate, spreading like a slow turnip...
Shannon Donovan
"So much for the gods and their
static demands. our demands, former
demands, death patterns
obscure as fragments of an
archaeology, these frescoes
on a crumbling temple
wall we look at now and can scarcely
piece together

is over, we take place
in a season, an undivided
space, no necessities

hold us closed, distort
us. I lean behind you, mouth touching
your spine, my arms around
you, palm above the heart,
your blood insistent under
my hand, quick and mortal"
Pg 95
If I abandoned a baby with nothing but this book and instructions to return to society a poet, I would have created a genius.

Atwood's sense of motion and development of metaphor is astounding, magnificent, horrifying, the lucid and sparse descriptions, it's as if she said "I want to show you where I live" at the end of the tour we went into her closet and ended up in my closet.
Recommended to me based on my own writing, this is one of my favorite books. Hers is a voice of power. She inhabits what she chooses and tells it like it is. Uncompromising. Full of terrifying beauty. "The story is ruthless" indeed.
Good collection. I liked some poems much better than others. My favorite was "Gothic Letter on a Hot Night." I love reading it when I feel like i cannot write again.
I read this in my late teens and never realized what an influence it had on my own poetry until recently. Replete with EYE imagery and Atwood's trademark irony.
I thought this was pretty okay overall, but god, the second section, "Songs of the Transformed," is amazing. I could've read a whole book like that.
I LOVE Margaret Atwood's novels....but I'm definitely not a fan of her poetry.
Hobart Frolley
very moving and beautiful
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FABClub (Female A...: You Are Happy group discussion 11 7 Mar 25, 2015 08:42AM  
  • Awake
  • Handwriting
  • This Can't Be Life
  • Sun Under Wood
  • Winter Trees
  • After
  • The Morning of the Poem
  • Twenty Prose Poems
  • Like a Beggar
  • Men in the Off Hours
  • Middle Earth: Poems
  • What Is Amazing
  • Eunoia
  • Neon Vernacular: New and Selected Poems
  • The Poems of Marianne Moore
  • The Last Time I Saw Amelia Earhart: Poems
  • Ordinary Sun
  • Splinter Factory
Margaret Atwood was born in 1939 in Ottawa and grew up in northern Ontario, Quebec, and Toronto. She received her undergraduate degree from Victoria College at the University of Toronto and her master's degree from Radcliffe College.

Throughout her writing career, Margaret Atwood has received numerous awards and honourary degrees. She is the author of more than thirty-five volumes of poetry, childr
More about Margaret Atwood...
The Handmaid's Tale Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam, #1) The Blind Assassin The Year of the Flood (MaddAddam, #2) Alias Grace

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“Kill what you can't save
what you can't eat throw out
what you can't throw out bury

What you can't bury give away
what you can't give away you must carry with you,
it is always heavier than you thought.”

It is spring, my decision, the earth
ferments like rising bread
or refuse, we are burning
last year's weeds, the smoke
flares from the road, the clumped stalks
glow like sluggish phoenixes / it wasn't
only my fault / birdsongs burst from
the feathered pods of their bodies, dandelions
whirl their blades upwards, from beneath
this decaying board a snake
sidewinds, chained hide
smelling of reptile sex / the hens
roll in the dust, squinting with bliss, frogbodies
bloat like bladders, contract, string
the pond with living jelly
eyes, can I be this
ruthless? I plunge
my hands and arms into the dirt,
swim among stones and cutworms,
come up rank as a fox,

restless. Nights, while seedlings
dig near my head

I dream of reconciliations
with those I have hurt
unbearably, we move still
touching over the greening fields, the future
wounds folded like seeds
in our tender fingers, days
I go for vicious walks past the charred
roadbed over the bashed stubble
admiring the view, avoiding
those I have not hurt

yet, apocalypse coiled in my tongue,
it is spring, I am searching
for the word:

so I can begin over
again, some year
I will take this word too far.”
More quotes…