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And Her Soul Out Of Nothing

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  1,315 Ratings  ·  56 Reviews
Both contemporary and other-worldly, Davis's lyrical poetry is a fearless expression of the spirit which defines the very essence of our beings.
Paperback, 112 pages
Published October 15th 1997 by University of Wisconsin Press
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Nov 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I've acquired a dozen or so poetry books in the last two weeks and the poems contained in And Her Soul Out Of Nothing by Olena Kalytiak Davis are the best. She won the 1997 Brittingham Prize in Poetry for this collection. Here is a sample of her work - The title is "It's Shaped Like A Fork."

This house is a mess. Full
of solid notions
that keep turning into objects:
this simple sadness
that's shaped like a fork
and the vague fear that crusts
these dishes. I'm vacuuming
over this grass-like pain.
Oct 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Feels a bit like Plath (before she delved all the way down) with a tinge of Tsvetaeva and a whole lot of modern, urban feel to it. She describes herself as having "hipbones/instead of children" and writes poems about puking in parking lots, Wal-Mart workers, her mother's death. Some are better than others, of course. And one is excellent.

"The Scaffolding Inside You" is one of those poems that most writers never manage, and few manage more than one. Relentless, pitiless, perfectly pared down. It
Feb 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
that isn't fireweed

that's just someone thawing
somebody else's life with a blowtorch
Christy Sibila
Aug 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
When I first read Davis' poetry, it felt oddly familiar. Then I realized, it was as if I had written these poems myself. I do not claim to be nearly half as talented as Davis, but her haunting, spot-on lyricism is something to which I aspire.
From "The Outline I Inhabit". "In the ghost-making fog the phone rings./ Sure, I'm unnerved, but I listen./I strain for meaning. So when I hang up/everything's sore. When I hang up/I have to write down everything/that hurts./Imagine what Pain says:/"I'll ke
Dec 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Fabulous. One of the most amazing poetry experiences I've ever had. It won the Brittingham Prize in 1997, and might as well continue to win every year.
Jan 30, 2014 rated it liked it
We sat around trying to name
the things that do not exist.
Mar 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I'm not actually finished reading this book. I can actually never stop reading this book or give it back to my sister. I love it too much.

Ok, the title and the cover suck. But the poems are painfully good. I want to memorize them and never shower again and mutter them to people I pass on the street.
Feb 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poems
lines taken out of context:

When it's this windy doesn't it seem impossible
to grow old?

from "Who Cares About Aperture"

I can't pretend to understand all of it but I want to, so that's something. I like a lot of these. Especially "I've Always Been One To Delight In The Misfortune Of Others."
Jan 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
On this snow day—and as a belated Happy New Year post—here are my 10 best Library reads of 2010, with thanks to the great Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and its staff:

This first collection—winner of the 1997 Brittingham Prize in Poetry—is that rare thing for a book of poetry, a page-turner. From “Like Working at Wal Mart”: “She heard sad things all day/long in the usual turning/of phrases until it felt/everything she was touching/was just a neatly packaged beauty/supply or a deeply discounted/d
Oct 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I LOVE this book. All my poetry friends know how much I love this book. I can read it over and over again and still cry every time I read the poem "the panic of birds" (and friends) because the language possesses (as does the language of the whole book) this amazing balance of despair and interestingness, plus the music of the whole thing. Omfg. As long as I have Olena Kalytiak Davis and Laurel Snyder, everything will be okay.
Kimberly Rogers
Jan 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
No date because I haven't stopped reading this book since I was first introduced to it in 2002. A book of lyric poems set vaguely in Alaska-- that capture the feeling of long, long winters where the sky and the ground are exactly the same shade of white (yet the author can tell them apart).
Jul 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
a poetry book i feel i can go back to and fall in love with all over again:

"the fevered understanding offered from the barstool,
from this side of the confessional's grate. The ardent
I'm-so-sorry, the willing I-hear-you"
Aug 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is one of my favorites. I have read it straight through more times than I can count, but I find myself reading and re-reading anyway.
Sonya Feher
Jun 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Davis combines lyric and narrative beautifully.
Oct 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favourites, poetry
Loved these poems in all their brilliant complexity, especially "The Gauze of Flowers, A Love Poem".
Apr 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I took my time with these poems. They are beautiful! Along the lines of Rilke and Carver. The paper that started as a bookmark has been reduced to a nub by all the slivers torn off to mark pages.
Amber Clark
Jun 11, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: wordnerds, lovers, astronauts
I am always reading this book.

licking the salt from the wound.
Sep 02, 2015 rated it it was ok
Quite good in spots. Confessional to a tee.
Jul 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
One of my favorite poetry collections!!
Feb 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I own well over 500 books of poetry and this book consistently stays in my top ten. Ms. Davis is uniquely herself, unlike any other poet I've read. I have so much of this book underlined and highlighted, I had to buy a second copy. It's the first book that pops into my brain when someone asks me to recommend a current poet. If you love good, beautiful, unique poetry, this one's for you. One of my favorite poems in this book:

By Olena Kalytiak Davis

The moon is sick
of pulling at t
B. Mason
I don't quite have the poetic vocabulary to encapsulate what "And Her Soul Out of Nothing" is like as a book. The easiest thing to do would be to make a comparison between this poetry and watching morning light refract off glass, illuminating your familiar world in new ways. Davis is heaving a deep throated cry, using familiar notes, that I have never heard before in such a pitch that resonates deeply with my aesthetic and spiritual understanding. Reading this collection is refreshing, pleasurab ...more
Dec 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those rare books of poetry where I can't wait to go back and re-read and figure out why it got under my skin the way it did. The first two sections were slow and and I was impatient; when I read the last section, I was blown away--the phrasing, the emotional impact, the ability to take me someplace else, were potent. Afterward, the first parts haunted me. There's a way that the slower, less direct earlier sections set the stage for the final section in a way that I want to take ti ...more
paulA neves
Jul 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
Olena Kalytiak Davis has the enviable ability to take incidents, fragments, and moments from the realm of the literal and quotidian to the transformative, often before you have even realized it. Although a few of the poems didn't reach me, the majority created that irresistible mood of longing, the soul-deep inarticulate kind that she manages quite beautifully to articulate.
Feb 20, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read on Calhoun street senior year of college with Jimmy and Misty saying oh yeah I like that line about the punk rock and the flower with the white body. We met Davis and boy was she nutty and Alaskan.
Jun 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Aug 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I've read this book three or four times over the last ten years and it doesn't diminish. Like holding a moth in two hands.
Nicholas Rombes
Aug 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"but you can no longer divide your thoughts into layers / and the flowers now come in waves"
p. 51
Poniros Diana
Mar 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"Please don’t let me love you
that horrible way."
Sep 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 03, 2016 rated it liked it
I've started to appreciate poetry more and more as I get older. I like the way poetry works: how it tells pieces of story without saying everything, how it can express emotion in just a few lines. Plus, John Green reads excellent poems on Dear Hank and John, and I'm always Googling them after I listen to the podcast. To satisfy my recent poetry craving, I ordered And Her Soul Out Of Nothing and two other collections of poems.

Overall, Davis's verses are good, but I didn't really connect with th
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  • This Clumsy Living
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  • Interior with Sudden Joy: Poems
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  • I Have to Go Back to 1994 and Kill a Girl: Poems
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American poet Olena Kalytiak Davis was born in 1963. She is the author of two poetry collections: 'And Her Soul Out Of Nothing' and 'Shattered Sonnets, Love Cards, And Other Off-And-Back Handed Importunities.'

Her first book won the Brittingham Prize. Her other honors include a a 1996 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award in poetry, and a 2004 Guggenheim Fellowship in poetry.

Her poems have been publ
More about Olena Kalytiak Davis

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“I thought: please don’t grow
familiar. I think I said it out loud:
Please don’t let me love you
that horrible way.”
“The situation is grave: the way we lean over each other, the way years later we emerge: hunchbacked, hooded, with full grown tender things called souls.” 32 likes
More quotes…