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Skin Divers

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  161 ratings  ·  21 reviews
Anne Michaels is best known for her blend of historical inquiry and passionate exploration of the personal, and her third collection of poetry, Skin Divers, develops those preoccupations in 13 poems about love, bereavement, and the past. At times, the heavily sensuous language of Michaels's lyrical poems obstructs their effectiveness; she can become too taken with an image ...more
Hardcover, 80 pages
Published September 23rd 1999 by McClelland & Stewart
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4.16  · 
Rating details
 ·  161 ratings  ·  21 reviews

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Violet wells
Nov 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 21st-century
Anne Michaels’ poems confirm what her novels imply – that she is a diehard romantic. For her everything comes down to love. All her best lines are about love. Her characters find identity in love. I’m no authority on poetry so I’ll just say I enjoyed most of these poems a lot.
Dec 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Anne Michaels' Skin Divers is an absolutely phenomenal poetry collection, particularly so after I was a little disappointed by her novel Fugitive Pieces. Most of the stanzas here are achingly beautiful, and her writing is so intelligent and thought-provoking. Michaels' creation of imagery too is delightful and original: 'Starlight / soaks our shoes', and 'Frozen sparklers of Queen Anne's lace', for instance. I shall leave you with a few of my absolute favourite fragments from the collection.

Nov 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Three weeks longing, water burning
stone. Three weeks leopard blood
pacing under the loud insomnia of stars.
Three weeks voltaic. Weeks of winter
afternoons, darkness half descended.
Howling at distance, ocean
pulling between us, bending time.
Three weeks finding you in me in new places,
luminescent as a tetra in depths,
its neon trail.
Three weeks shipwrecked on this mad island;
twisting aurora of perfumes. Every boundary of body
electrified, every thought hunted down
by memory of touch. Three weeks of open
Mar 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, poetry, canada
No writer touches my heart and makes my cells swing like Anne Michaels. As always she captures the essence of being human, being material and being (in) the world with tenderness, boundless beauty, powerful images, musicality and precision. The latter I find at times almost too much though. With words like sphagnum, keloids, cilia appearing on the same page I'm wondering whether she's become a tad too contrived. I wonder if the quest for precision impedes on the celebration of love, encapsulates ...more
Sep 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Exceptionally strong and well crafted poems of longing and belonging
Skin Divers A perfect example of a poetry book that was published more than 10 years ago yet has that timeless quality to it, making it relate-able to people who follow in the coming years. There's a lot of beautiful imagery in this collection and although there aren't as many poems, many of them are rather long, so the magic lasts double the time. It was easy to be drawn into the writing and the atmosphere Michaels created, and each poem evoked emotions from the reader. All the poems had a ligh ...more
Erin Lyndal
This is a lovely book with plenty of gorgeous imagery, and Michaels did a lot of research first, which I always love. However, I felt that despite the concrete images, she used too many abstractions in the poems, and the significance often got buried, as did things like to whom the "you" referred to. It also took me out of the poems that she would situate them in such imagistic scenarios and then go into a stanza or more that told rather than showed.
Mar 31, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
The last book of published poems by Michaels that I have yet not read. It's a bit bittersweet, I don't want it to end and so i read about one poem from it a month.
Aug 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, favorites

Excerpts from Last Night's Moon

March aspens, mist
forest. Green rain pins down
the sea, early evening
cyanotype. Silver saltlines, weedy
toques of low tide, pillow lava's
black spill indelible
in the sand. Unbroken
broken sea.


Rain sharpens marsh-hair
birth-green of the spring firs.
In the bog where the dead never disappear,
where river birch drown, the surface
strewn with reflection. This is the acid-soaked
moss that eats bones, keeps flesh;
the fermented ground where time stops and
doesn't; dissolves the sk
Dec 26, 2017 rated it liked it
This is a sweet and sentimental book with some really beautiful imagery. However, the style is not something that I enjoy.
Audrey Cullen
Oct 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5/5 stars. Really quite something!!
Isla McKetta
Jan 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
There are a few immaculate books whose language is so rich that I can only read a few pages at a time before putting them aside to absorb them. They are not inaccessible books, usually the words themselves are very simple, but it's the combination of those words and the unexpected imagery and fresh perspective that blow my writing mind. This is one of those books.

I've wanted to read Michaels' poetry for so long and I loved seeing echoes and starts of Fugitive Pieces and The Winter Vault here. Bu
Theryn Fleming
Jun 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
Skin Divers is Anne Michaels's third volume of poetry. I read it all in one sitting. It's a slim volume, as they say—only 68 pages including the acknowledgments—so this was not a great feat. But... I always feel a little guilty reading a book so fast when I know how long it probably took to write it. I'll try to make up for speed with re-readings.

The most important thing for me about poetry is that it sound right. It should have rhythm. It should flow. Michaels's poetry sounds right. It's... de
Jan 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, anne-michaels
Now we’re like planets, holding to each other
from a great distance.
[...] Now we’re hundreds of miles apart,
our short arms keep us lonely,
no one hears what’s in my head.
[...] It’s March, even the birds
don’t know what to do with themselves.
I want you to promise
we’ll see each other again,
you’ll send a letter.
Promise we’ll be lost together
in our forest, pale birches of our legs.

I hear your voice now—I know,
everyone knows promises come from fear.
People don’t live past each other,
you’re always h
Joel Cuthbert
Dec 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The greatest poetry is poetry that literally slows you down. The richness of these words requires it. Each stanza like carefully gathered stones, each unique and full of hidden detail. But why try and describe poetry with poetry? All I can say is for some of us Anne Michaels is why we read poetry. I met her a few years ago and was doubly enriched by hearing her read. A great artist.
Jan 26, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An exquisite and meditative collection of poetry from a writer who never wastes her words.
Mar 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some of the most beautiful poetry I've read. Her words flow off the page and paint beautiful images.
Emily Roberts
The skin is the only way to get to know each other. To dive and swim and keep breathing, paradoxically, when it seems we can't breath anymore.
Sep 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourite-poetry
Subtly crafted, stunning volume of poetry. Her poems are an intricate mélange of science, substance, and a note of poetry to set it off, a little like magic. One of the loveliest books I've read.
Jan 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
amazing and lovely
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Poesía en castellano: Anne Michaels 1 1 Sep 24, 2018 01:39PM  
  • Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl
  • The Big Book of Exit Strategies
  • Certain Magical Acts
  • Miracle Fair: Selected Poems
  • Excuse me while I wring this long swim out of my hair
  • The Emperor of Water Clocks
  • A Pillow Book
  • Short Talks
  • The Poems of Octavio Paz
  • Howling at the Moon
  • Chimerascope
  • The Weather Stations
  • The Book of Heaven: A Novel
  • A Village Life
  • Virgin
  • Granta 127: Japan
  • In the Western Night: Collected Poems, 1965-1990
  • Ghosts Still Walking
From Canadian Poetry Online:

Anne Michaels was born in Toronto, Canada, in 1958. She is the author of one novel Fugitive Pieces, which explores the possibility of love and faith alter the Holocaust, with language marked by power, elegance, and integrity. Ms. Michaels, who has also composed musical scores for the theater, has said "when you put a tremendous amount of love into your work, as in any r
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“Because the moon feels loved, she lets our eyes
follow her across the field, stepping
from her clothes, strewn silk
glinting in furrows. Feeling loved, the moon loves
to be looked at, swimming
all night across the river.”
“I can only find you
by looking deeper, that's how love
leads us into the world.”
More quotes…