Why Speak?: Poems
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Why Speak?: Poems

4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  20 ratings  ·  4 reviews
These layered, braided narratives combine images of landscape and nature, childhood memories and family history, evoked paintings and performances. Nathaniel Bellows's verse is intimate yet inviting, dark but hopeful: "I could not saw the fallen tree not all / of it had fallen because somehow each spring, / the rotted half still mysteriously bloomed."
Hardcover, 96 pages
Published February 17th 2007 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 2007)
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I've been reading enough poetry in the past year or so to understand that part of getting a poet (and therefore wanting to praise their poetry) is to make a connection. More so that in a novel, poetry seems, at least for me, to require me to find points of connection, little links that can be as subtle as a turn of phrase or referencing something you feel (falsely of course) that only you and the poet share.

Which brings me to Mr. Bellows, who writes what I think is very solid poetry that just do...more
I just felt as though there were many points where the poems lacked a commitment. For instance, the images of fish, or what it means to be under water were both introduced, but I didn't see what Bellows actually thought was so important about them.
Robert Beveridge
Nathaniel Bellows, Why Speak? (Norton, 2007)

It's obvious from the moment you open Why Speak? and start reading its first piece that Nathaniel Bellows is very, very good at what he does.

“From the highway I see the open, unknown field, two silos the same
battered blue, the sign with its white letters still singing the name

ALFALFA FARM. And next door, the house of an old friend, long gone,
now redone and different from how I knew it: raw, dug-up lawn,

cracked storm door, a van in the driveway balanced...more
It wasn't bad. A lot of the poems felt repetitive, but they had a nice tone and clear visuals. The title poem at the end was pretty good—the entire final section, actually, was fairly strong. Once the narrator moved off the farm and started talking about music, the poems got much better. I'd check out another one of his collections.
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Nathaniel Bellows has published a novel, ON THIS DAY, (HarperCollins), and a collection of poems, WHY SPEAK? (W.W. Norton), and NAN, a novel-in-stories (Harmon Blunt).

His fiction has appeared in The Paris Review, Narrative, Post Road, Redivider, Guernica, Cousin Corrine's Reminder, Memorious, and THE BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES 2005, edited by Michael Chabon. His poems have appeared in The New Yo...more
More about Nathaniel Bellows...
On This Day Nan

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