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Selected Poems

4.38  ·  Rating Details  ·  339 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
"Mary Ruefle is one of the brilliant American poets of our time. Her work combines the spiritual desperation of Dickinson with the rhetorical virtuosity of Wallace Stevens. The result is a poetry at once ornate and intense; linguistically marvelous, yes, but also as visceral as anything you are likely to encounter."—Tony Hoagland

"In poems striking for their vivid, playful,
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published August 17th 2010 by Wave Books
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331st out of 408 books — 251 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 752)
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Aug 05, 2014 Ravi rated it it was amazing
Dear Library of Congress,

Please make Mary Ruefle the next Poet Laureate.


Also - How many DVDs can I take out at a time?
Jon Cone
Oct 10, 2010 Jon Cone rated it it was amazing
I carry this volume everywhere. It's become one of my favorite collections. Mary once wrote me: "Jon, this poem doesn't prepare me for my death." And I had to agree, the poem I sent her didn't do that, didn't even have that as a goal because it wasn't aware that poems could do so. But these poems, Mary's poems, they do that. This is a wonderful selection from a lifetime's fearless dedication to poetry.
Feb 20, 2011 Leanna rated it it was amazing
Well, this was as stunning as people have told me. One of the most original and engaging poets writing today, as far as I'm concerned. Truly one of a kind (although if I tried to describe her through the lens of other poets, I would say she recalls both Wislawa Szymborska's occasionally gothic sense of humor, and Dean Young's mode of surprising juxtapositions).

Lyrical, moving, sharp, weird--I have major love for this book.

Favorite poems-- "The Beautiful is Negative," "Timberland," "Cul-de-sac,"
Dianna Caley
Jan 08, 2014 Dianna Caley rated it really liked it
I loved the first half of this book. The imagery was novel and vivid, the emotions intense. Each one had an interesting narrative view. But then I shut down about half way through. That happens to me a lot with poetry. I sometimes wonder if poetry like dessert isn't so rich that when you consume too much you lose your taste for it.
Dec 15, 2010 Melissa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Yes yes yes! Mary is the madame of the poetic turn. Her turns and leaps are wild, yet somehow totally integrated.

Thank you Mary and thank you Wave for hours of inspiration. I am going to read this beautiful book again & again
Yaddyra Peralta
Jul 16, 2012 Yaddyra Peralta rated it it was amazing
Finished and now I will read all over again.
Austin Williams
Jun 19, 2015 Austin Williams rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
"Nice Hands"

I was born in a hospital. I stank.
They washed me. Five years later
my brain was a lightbulb that flickered on and off,
my soul was a milk bottle yearning to be full,
my stomach, made of concrete, had a long wooden table
where six dressed kittens sat, holding up their bowls.
No my stomach has the pizzazzz of a hundred colored bulbs
hanging by a wire over a cantina where someone in a white sheet
is learning to pour wine on the altar.
The cats have grown, scattered, multiplied
in my brain where
May 07, 2014 Emily rated it it was amazing
T Fool
Jan 20, 2014 T Fool rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed-books
These I read one per night over as many nights as there are poems. That's my absorption level. Even read "The Great Loneliness" to a financial adviser, since she and I were fretting about how long over a projected lifetime to stretch the numbers we saw rise like very modest hills on the screen.

One can learn from these poems. They're not sentimental; indeed, the tumble of their imagery is a kind of wild ride suggesting surreal directions, but not (as 'surrealist' poetry often does) incoherently p
Jul 26, 2011 Jeannine rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Reading through Mary Ruefle’s new Selected Poems, published by Wave Books and culled from her ten books of poetry, I notice two threads run through all the work: one is an element of light-handed humor, and the other is the echo of Biblical language and subject matter. References to artifice and art also reappear throughout her poems, signaling that Ruefle wants the reader to stay aware of context and linguistic maneuvers.

Her language is simple and direct, even when the poem itself is not; one o
Mat Wenzel
Jan 08, 2015 Mat Wenzel rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Mary Ruefle’s poems in Selected Poems offer a wide range of content in her large body of work. Throughout the work a sense of humor is maintained but also an honest cynicism and a struggle with language and meaning. The poet often seems to struggle with the reflective, thoughtful, perhaps “ivory tower” life of a poet, and everyday life and the life of action without over-analysis. “All day I have done nothing,” the book begins and ends much the same with the speaker’s “lullaby” being her “inabil ...more
Mandy E
Mar 03, 2016 Mandy E rated it it was amazing
"Hands are unbearably beautiful/They hold on to things. They let things go."
from "The Cart"
"After that you are free to pursue/the violent activity of happiness."
from "Quick Note about the Think Source"

Ruefle & Davis...
Ruefle & Lockwood...
Dec 21, 2014 Jessica rated it it was amazing
Mary Ruefle's poems make me want to write poetry. They are accessible, but still totally weird, and have caused me to observe and interact with the day to day a little bit more curiously. I am excited to keep interacting with these poems.
Mar 31, 2011 Ashley rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, read-in-2011
This was a gift from my brother for Christmas. I had never read any of Mary Ruefle's work, but I absolutely fell in love with her through this. It's an absolutely gorgeous collection. I'll definitely be checking out her other books!
Oct 11, 2014 Susan rated it really liked it
I really like Ruefle, but she's quirky enough that I have to be in the mood. I know I'll return to this book from time to time. But I did find while reading it that a steady diet of her was not what I wanted.
Jan 02, 2015 Yz rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Yz by: Amanda
Hit or miss for me -- but oh (five) stars, the hits! Perfection is interesting, is it not? Satisfaction more so.

Favourites: "Out of a Hundred," "Glory," and "Lullaby."

Thanks, Amanda!
Jeremy Allan
Feb 15, 2014 Jeremy Allan rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Have a chat with Mary Ruefle. I mean read her book. The conversation is going to be odd. But that will be pleasant, and alienating in an agreeable way. Do it again.
Mar 03, 2016 Cheryl rated it really liked it
Beautiful, odd little poems that require meditation-like attention. The juxtaposition of strange and wonderful images is refreshing.
Jan 12, 2014 Taube rated it it was amazing
"I read three thousand books, / and then I died."

Absolutely brilliant. My head aches from the vertiginous wonder of these poems.
Apr 12, 2015 Moira rated it it was amazing
Mary Ruefle has an amazing, imaginative mind. My favorites are "Kiss of the Sun" and "Why I Am Not a Good Kisser".
Dec 02, 2012 Sarah rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I read three thousand books, / and then I died.

Bottom line: Mary Ruefle is our Emily Dickinson.
Jan 06, 2016 Morgane rated it it was amazing
Ruefle is a phenomenal writer. That's really all there is to say. Read this book.
Nov 23, 2015 Steven rated it really liked it
You are never really done with a book, esp. of poetry...genuine moments of greatness...
Dec 06, 2011 Jenna rated it liked it
These generally playful poems seem to be less concerned with Things than with The-Relationships-Between-Things, be these relationships familial, geographical, or purely conceptual. The names-of-things that appear in these poems (e.g., the blue orchids in the poem "Perfume River," or the deer antlers in "The Beautiful is Negative") have little or no importance in themselves; rather, their raison-d'etre is to serve as counters in a conceptual game of relationships, connections, and linkages. Consi ...more
Erika Schoeps
May 24, 2015 Erika Schoeps rated it liked it
Shelves: read-for-school
Very difficult and time consuming for me to get through. I gave this three stars, but I'm not really comfortable recommending this book to anyone else, or even giving my copy to anyone but Goodwill. Ruefle thrives on shoving absurd things together and then watching the reader struggle to find some sort of meaning. Trust me, I love weird, vague poetry that requires some work, but Ruefle takes this weird and vague to the most ridiculous levels. Ruefle's poems are drowning in complex images that ar ...more
Vincent Scarpa
Jun 28, 2014 Vincent Scarpa rated it liked it
When she's great, she's great; when she isn't, she isn't. Though the dozen or so poems I really loved in the collection are absolutely worth the price of admission. Probably won't seek out more of her poetry—though I did and do love Madness, Rack, and Honey, her lectures—but don't regret buying this selected poems at all.
Though Mary Ruefle’s poems bear little influence of Frost, perhaps no contemporary American poet better embodies the great bard’s famous adage that a poem “begins in delight and ends in wisdom.” The recent recipient of the 2011 William Carlos Williams Award, Ruefle’s Selected Poems is a long, engrossing study in astonishment. Indeed, it is impossible not to read many, if not all, of her poems as testaments to the imagination, as when the speaker in “Nice Hands” reflects on being five years old.. ...more
Taylor Jones
Jun 02, 2016 Taylor Jones rated it it was amazing
Not every poem in this selection is a gem, but there are many gems here.

Mary Ruefle is my new favorite poet. Sorry Anne Sexton.
Apr 24, 2016 Nikki rated it liked it
3.5 stars
Jul 22, 2013 Claire rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
There are some wonderful pieces in here--and a few that I absolutely adored--but one plows through too many inscrutable duds to give the overall collection a higher rating than 3.5. How disappointing--Ruefle's masterful prose sets us up for something much, much better.
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Mary Ruefle is an American poet and essayist. The daughter of a military officer, Ruefle was born outside Pittsburgh in 1952, but spent her early life traveling around the U.S. and Europe. She graduated from Bennington College in 1974 with a degree in Literature.

Ruefle's work has been widely published in literary journals. She has received a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, a Whiting Wr
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