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Black Life

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  310 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
You are born and it is to a black life
Full of abuse and strange things . . .

In her second collection of poetry, Dorothea Lasky cries out beyond prophecy and confession, through to an even more powerful empathy. On the verge of becoming pure substance and sensation, Black Life is emotion recollected not in tranquility, but in radically affirming intensity.

I leave and I am a
Paperback, 77 pages
Published April 1st 2010 by Wave Books (first published 2010)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jul 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to W.B. by: I buy lots of WAVE BOOKS
This just arrived today and I wasn't supposed to be reading poetry. I was supposed to be arguing about money on the telephone. But I'm glad I took the break and read the poems. I can argue about money later. This money's better.

The truth is, I simply couldn't stop. Once you step on a train, you don't get off the train until it stops. Well maybe you do, but I don't. I'm a little sentimental about my bones.

As powerful as AWE was, this book is a major ramp-up.

The poems are sometimes deliciously coc
Martha Silano
May 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I’ve been slowly reading Dorothea Lasky’s Black Life for the last six or so weeks, looking forward to the time each night just before bed when I crawl into bed, & turn on the night-light to lap up a few of her poems before the book falls onto my face, and I turn into sleep. Sometimes I am lying there next to my husband, and I will be giggling, or saying I can’t believe she did that or holy shit, and my husband will say, okay, let me read it, so I will pass him her book and point to the poem ...more
Apr 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I've just reread this book. How do I say that Dorothea Lasky is one of the best poets I know? I guess I just did. She is. She is one of those poets who will destroy you in one sitting. One of the things I LOVE about knowing her as a person is that her poems ESPECIALLY THESE POEMS HERE do not at all reflect the person you meet. In person, as a woman, as a poet, as a citizen, is fun, funny, loving, in person, as a person. But these poems are her dark truth, these poems hold your eyeball to the fla ...more
Jun 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, female-writer
I bought Black Life soon after it was published in April. I was looking forward to it since I am a fan of Awe.

I liked Black Life even better. It is even more cute and charming. All the poems in the new book are at the level of the best ones in the first book. These are more complex, and the subjects change more in this book.

I like how Lasky isn’t afraid to sound sincere. I saw one of the poems in the book in The New Yorker, and I was happily surprised. Her poems have a cuteness to them that yo
Aug 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
After seeing her read a couple of times recently, I can't let go of that VOICE! I want to read everything by her now. This collection has many outstanding moments; my favorites being Fat, Poem to My Ex-Husband, I Am a Wild Band, None Of It Matters, and a poem that truly feels classic to me, It Feels Like Love, which I will pirate here from the website, Past Simple:

It feels like love

When he and I are together, it just feels like love
And when we are talking and laughing together
It feels like love
Nov 11, 2010 rated it liked it
Dorothea Lasky’s new book, Black Life, brims with the chaos of real life and real people fighting to express themselves when shiny and happy words aren’t sufficient. A unifying component of the poems is frequent references to her father’s battle with dementia, and sprinkled among these are tiny images, made all the more terrifying for their brevity: helpless rest home patients with bald baby heads being beaten by staff. Fire as both purifier and destroyer also makes appearances in unexpected con ...more
Jan 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Black Life is a daring book. A book that makes you want to talk, argue, contradict. Because it is written in such an imperative, self-assertive tone that kind of challengues you. It makes you think. It gets you angry. It makes you sad. And happy. But, overall, it makes you think a lot. It doesn't sound self-confessional or self-pity even when the author is talking about herself. So, for me, a book that raises dialogue, that makes you think, and has beautiful verses (and Black Life does) deserves ...more
Sep 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: black lifers
Shelves: poetry
Some of these poems feel so good to read, even though most of them are not about feeling good. Maybe they are not perfect, no not perfect at all, and full of enjambments, but I think the titles of the poems will illustrate: 'I Just Feel So Bad' and 'None of It Matters' and 'That One Was the Oddest One.' See? These are those kind of poems.
Apr 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a terrifying, sad, and powerful collection. Dorothea Lasky writes without any pretense or any of the embellishments or rationalizations we train ourselves to believe in adulthood. The result is some dark music.
May 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely one of my favorite poetry collections. Raw and unexpected with clear language. I'm truly inspired to drop my inhibitions and write with the same honesty. Dorothea Lasky is funny even when she is trying not to be - because living is funny.
Feb 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best books I have ever read in my whole life. Dorothea Lasky is the Notorious B.I.G. of the poetry world. "All poetry that matters today has feelings in it" / "Whatever you do don't feel anything at all."
Patty Cottrell
Nov 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
a voice of humility and wisdom. humane.
Apr 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
"Oh but Dottie, you say, you are so funny
Surely you realize you are always being ironic
But I am not, I will tell you
I am only being real"
Jan 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I preferred AWE.
Feb 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
beautiful book
Jun 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Camilla by: kruge
my favorite new poet.
Don Gochenour
May 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
This book is gorgeous.
Luis Correa
Oct 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Poetry about poetry that's actually personal, forthright, and unafraid.
Carrie Lorig
Jan 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
this book officially means everything to me.
Sep 10, 2012 rated it it was ok
I came across Dorothea Lasky's newer poems in some literary magazines and noticed her interesting voice, so I bought her 'most recent' book at that time and wanted to how her work could be read as a collection. I have to say this book is disappointing and I am even tempted to say the poet may be over-rated because WAVE usually publishes poets carefully chosen. The first reason why I can't make myself love the book is that the linebreaks are boring. The poet has decided to abandon the use of punc ...more
Dec 23, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
looking at the table of contents of black life made me feel like this collection might really appeal to me as if i could return to it whenever i felt just as sad-lonely-scared as dorothea lasky seems in these poems. i love these select titles, which promise resonance or something.

- "Two doors to hell"
- "When you want to read, you can't read"
- "How to survive in this world"
- "It feels like love"
- "Some sort of truth"
- "I am a wild band"
- "Very Vivid and Horrible Dreams"
- "Sad"
- "It's a lonely wor
May 11, 2010 rated it it was ok
I really loved her first book of poems, but this one just felt so...well...self-involved. I really appreciate the strangeness and unexpected images, but when an author actually includes this in their writing, I think they've gone too far:
"I don't get my poems published and then I do"
"Have you ever read a book called Awe?
I have. I wrote it. That's my book."
(the whole poem is about her first book and people reading it.)
Jun 01, 2011 rated it liked it
Dorothea Lasky is of the dead-pan, ain't-no-irony-round-here-Uhnt-uh school of American pop surrealism. That is, she asks us not to take as seriously as she does her literary savvy; a wry hyperbolist and a loose talker, she won't cop to the areas of exposure in subject matter suggested in her poems' poker face. I think it's possible to enjoy this without wanting to claim for it anything more than a mandarin taste.
Sep 12, 2014 rated it it was ok
The poems in Black Life are conversational and confessional. Some might even say self indulgent. I would be one of those people.

When one of your poems is called "Ever Read a Book called AWE?" and AWE was your last book before this one? Yeah. That's when I begin to think perhaps you take yourself far too seriously. A big disappointment for me.
Oct 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
A sharp book of modern poetry that is refreshingly deeply human without being straight up narrative or confessional. Particularly loved "Two Doors to Hell", "The Legend of Good John Henry" and "How to Survive in This World".
Daniel Grear
Never has something so simple been so indecipherable. There are pleasures to be had in reading "Black Life," but Dorothea Lasky's line of logic is far from intuitive.
Kimberly Ann
Mar 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
MY favorite poems were "Some People Do it" p. 32, "Things" p. 34, "Tornado" p. 44, "Poets, You are Eager" p. 58, and "I Don't Remember the Talk of Men" p. 69
May 12, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry, experimental, 2013
This is a sad and chaotic collection; it takes two hands and shoves you away as hard as it can so that you definitely feel external to the world of the poet - it's not a pleasant experience.
Jeff Haynes
rated it it was amazing
Sep 08, 2013
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“…his voice is a midnight I’d like to walk into forever.” 1 likes
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