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Alive Together: New and Selected Poems

4.51  ·  Rating details ·  321 ratings  ·  40 reviews
In a collection that represents over thirty-five years of her writing life, this distinguished poet explores a wide range of subjects, which include her cultural and family history and reflect her fascination with music and the discoveries offered by language. In fact, her book is a testament to the miraculous power of language to interpret and transform our world. It is a ...more
Kindle Edition, 245 pages
Published October 1st 1996 by LSU Press (first published October 1995)
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4.51  · 
Rating details
 ·  321 ratings  ·  40 reviews


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carla
Sep 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my college professors used to say that the highest form of literature is poetry. It's definitely sometimes the most inaccessible, in my mind. Therefore, this year I've been looking for modern, well-respected poets to read and enjoy.

This was fantastic. Some of the poems were really depressing, but all reflect the life of Ms. Mueller, whose family escaped Nazi Germany. She's a Pulitzer Prize winner for poetry and this doesn't disappoint.
This book is a collection of many of her poems across
...more
Kim
Jan 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kim by: Kirsten
In the poem "Heartland", Mueller writes: "Now that we've given our hearts away/ with the bric-a-brac, we want them back./ Now we look for them secondhand, someone else's, in the old songs,/the slowly unfolding novels we never had time for. Hearts/ that taught themselves to fly". Her work is full of these kind of accessible, profound lines. Her use of detail and observation, her sheer ability to mine the emotion out of every word with subtle, powerful strokes makes this collection one for the bed ...more
Katia
Mar 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful, Rilke-like poetry. "Monet Refuses the Operation" is a masterpiece I carry in my head.
Cheryl
Jan 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“at home the bookshelves connected heaven and earth.”

One of the wisest poets I have ever read. Deep, joyous, full of wonder and sorrow all together, wrapped close in my heart and hands. Like Wendell Berry, but even better. While she is not touted as a nature poet, her poems are organic and evoke all that nature is, inside, outside, within, without. She has lovely poems about her parents, “I want the impossible photograph, /one that would show the world/ your trick, how you and she pulled joy fro
...more
Ally Armistead
Oct 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Upon my third reading, I can, without question, say that "Alive Together" is my most favorite of all contemporary poetry collections.

True, I do no read as many poetry collections as novels or short stories, but of the ones I have read (poets publishing in the last 30 years), Lisel Mueller is my absolute favorite.

Quite simply, she speaks to me. Her language refreshes me, her glimpses into childhood fill me with hope and imagination, a nostalgia that is bittersweet and longing. She is straightfo
...more
Dayna
Jun 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
I'm torn between feeling so grateful that Mueller wrote this collection full of wisdom and insight, and wildly jealous that I didn't write them myself because they are so beautiful. I love how she weaves fairy tale and history into her poems with such spot-on imagery. This will be one of my favorite collections forever.
Marcella
Oct 02, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Earthy but beautifully controlled.
Trisha
Jun 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, poetry
My favorite modern poet. Her verse is very moving, and you don't have to "get" poetry to enjoy her.
Greg
Mar 11, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Mueller is a master of language, that much is clear. This volume of poetry alternates between the mundane and the miraculous. The opening poem, Curriculum Vitae, is autobiographical, Spartan, and in short summarizes her life:

1) I was born in a Free City, near the North Sea.
2) In the year of my birth, money was shredded into confetti. A loaf of bread cost a million marks. Of course I do not remember this.
3) Parents and grandparents hovered around me. The world I lived in had a soft voice and no c
...more
Trisha
Sep 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes I think much contemporary poetry is written in an effort to confuse people and leave them wondering what on earth the poet is trying to say. But that’s not the case with this beautiful collection which won Lisel Mueller the Pulitzer prize in 1997. I’ve checked it out of the library so often that it’s a wonder I’m not able to recite most of what’s in it by heart.

Nevertheless, I have a hard time explaining just exactly what it is about her poetry that speaks to me other than to say I th
...more
Jorge
Mar 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful collection of poetry. My Grandmother's Pin has become a favorite poem.
Adria Goetz
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Goodness gracious I love Lisel Mueller + this collection of poetry.
Kristy
Nov 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The poem "Tears" is so moving.
Jen
Jul 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
YESSSSSSS. This is what a volume of poetry should be (although this is actually selections from several volumes bound together): it challenges me, it pushes me to write my own work, it is stirring and beautiful in a lovely and slightly melancholic way. I wouldn't say that Mueller is the best poet ever, nor do I like every poem in here; some of them are a bit too esoteric or have a stilted feel to them or are simply too descriptive for my taste (I'm not a fan of poetry that reads like someone jus ...more
Brian Wasserman
Review: Some good flourishes, but nothing too exciting. Such as this prediction poem, which easily is relevant today as when it was written.

Whoever you are: a letter

someone who does not know you somewhere is cleaning his rifle
carefully weighing the bullets that will put you out of his life.

someone perhaps the figure
you see in the rearview mirror
is living ahead of your death
dreaming the sick world green

someone is already climbing
a tower in texas, is halfway up
is at the top, has sought you out
a
...more
T Fool
Jul 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed-books
Some time ago, one of Mueller's poems made its way to me, and I valued it, noting mentally that she should be 'read further'. Years ago.

Recently I came upon another poem and recognized the woman I had filed in the back of my mind. From her name -- a deceptive diminutive -- I assumed she was my age or younger, but she's a full generation older. The poems read fresh and young, sometimes, and often on, still, from an adult daughter with memories of youth.

This selection does a favor in bringing her
...more
James
Feb 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
"Joy, joy the sopranos sing,
reaching for the shimmering notes
while our eyes fill with tears."

Mueller is a well-regarded poet and essayist noted for her lyrical verse that explores human experience and the power and limitations of language. Many critics have lauded the autobiographical aspects of her poetry, which often concerns her heritage and her poetic development. This collection, Alive Together, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1997.
As in the final stanza of this poem, titled si
...more
kelsey
Apr 24, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: poets, people who like to think and feel
I LOVED this poetry. She discusses so many different issues, makes you think about life in ways you never thought you would, and has some of the best quotes i've ever read. Some of her poems i find lame, but others more than make up for it! I have read so many of these poems multiple times and still cant get enough...
Caleb Benadum
May 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Alive Together is easily the most profound and enjoyable book of poetry I have read recently. Compiled over time, it brings together some of Mueller's best work, and highlights her substantive depth but innate accessibility. In my mind, Mueller shows us what a poet should be: one who can speak truth in the most precise way, highlighting an experience, a feeling, a thought.
Gan See Siong
Nov 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my all-time favourite book of poems. Don't really know why except the verse speaks to me each time i pick it up. I like the language,the imageries and her voice. My favourite would have to be "Brendel playing schubert".
Sherry
Aug 29, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you, Mary Jo, my poet friend, for stopping by and reminding me of the power of the poem. After you left, I went back and pulled Lisel from my book shelf and have loved reading her again--even some outloud tho I must admit, I haven't committed any to memory yet!
Emma Stockdale
May 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One thing is for certain, passion flowed freely from her pen; her words are so personal yet strike chords with all.

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/...
Brittany
Jan 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
This is one of my favorite collections of poetry by a single author.
Trish Lindsey
Mar 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I learned of this poet from an article on Pirene's Fountain. Great website . . . http://www.pirenesfountain.com/showca...

Mueller has me by the artery right now . . .
Diane
Feb 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I think I need my own copy of this book (I read a library copy). Many many gems.
Julie Sucha Anderson
Feb 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Interesting mix of likes and dislikes on my part. Fascinated by her use of literary, art, music, and historical giants for inspiration. Many I didn't understand fully, but certainly enjoyed trying.
Lindsey
Apr 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
I read one or two weekly!
Dana
Apr 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mueller was a fantastic poet and one of my favorites that I studied! I had the chance to write a paper on "Love Like Salt" which was at the top of the list of favorites I read by her!
Anna
Dec 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Best book of poetry EVER. You open it up to any page and it blows you away, particularly the title poem and 'Curriculum Vitae'.
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Poet and translator Lisel Mueller was born in Hamburg, Germany in 1924. The daughter of teachers, her family was forced to flee the Nazi regime when Mueller was 15. They immigrated to the US and settled in the Mid-west. Mueller attended the University of Evansville, where her father was a professor, and did her graduate study at Indiana University.

Her collections of poetry include The Private Lif
...more
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“How swiftly the strained honey
of afternoon light
flows into darkness

and the closed bud shrugs off
its special mystery
in order to break into blossom:

as if what exists, exists
so that it can be lost
and become precious”
21 likes
Tears

The first woman who ever wept
was appalled at what stung
her eyes and ran down her cheeks.
Saltwater. Seawater.
How was it possible?
Hadn't she and the man
spent many days moving
upland to where the grass
flourished, where the stream
quenched their thirst with sweet water?
How could she have carried these sea drops
as if they were precious seeds;
where could she have stowed them?
She looked at the watchful gazelles
and the heavy-lidded frogs;
she looked at glass-eyed birds
and nervous, black-eyed mice.
None of them wept, not even the fish
that dripped in her hands when she caught them.
Not even the man. Only she
carried the sea inside her body.”
11 likes
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