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The Dream of the Unified Field: Selected Poems, 1974-1994

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  984 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
The 1996 Pulitzer winner in poetry and a major collection, Jorie Graham's The Dream of the United Field: Selected Poems 1974-1994 spans twenty years of writing and includes generous selections from her first five books: Hybrids of Plants and of Ghosts, The End of Beauty, Region of Unlikeness,and Materialism.
Paperback, 208 pages
Published January 1st 1997 by Ecco (first published November 21st 1995)
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Robert Beveridge
Jorie Graham, The Dream of the Unified Field: Poems 1974-1994 (Ecco, 1995)

I love Jorie Graham's early work, the wunderkind poems of the seventies that established her as a real force in the world of poetry. Good, solid imagist stuff that tells its tale and gets out:

“...I'd watch
its path of body in the grass go
suddenly invisible
only to reappear a little
further on

black knothead up, eyes on
a butterfly.”
(“I Watched a Snake”)

A book like this, on the other hand, that goes from the very beginnings of h
May 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
The Dream of the Unified Field is a selection of Jorie Graham's poems from five collections, including: Hybrids of Plants and of Ghosts , Erosion , The End of Beauty , Region of Unlikeness , and Materialism ...

From Hybrids of Plants and of Ghosts ...

The slow overture of rain,
each drop breaking
without breaking into
the next, describes
the unrelenting, syncopated
mind. Not unlike
the hummingbirds
imagining their wings
to be their heart, and swallows
believing the horizon
to be a line they lift
and d
Mar 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-we-love
Devon Walker (Editorial Intern): November (2012) has found me moving back and forth between The Dream of the Unified Field, a collection of Jorie Graham poems, and Gina Oschner’s debut collection of short stories, The Necessary Grace to Fall. Both the poems and the stories share a sort of otherworldly logic in which myth effortlessly embeds itself in everyday ritual and history becomes less of an abstract collection of extinguished hours than a malleable and present object being shaped and resha ...more
Apr 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I found this book on a remainder table, opened it at random, and literally got chills reading that first page. This is the book that brought me back to reading poetry, which I'd probably stopped 15 years earlier.

I read it again recently, and its still just a wonderful collection. Graham manages to combine thoughts on important philosophical subjects with a deeply personal view and an astounding command of the language.

Here's how one untitled poem starts:

In the city that apparently never was,
James Murphy
Aug 09, 2009 rated it liked it
Jorie Graham is a difficult poet. A couple of times years ago I read an earlier book, Materialism, and so knew she can be muddy going. It's also included here in these selected poems. Maybe it's because of that familiarity I think those poems the most accessible here. And maybe it's because their subject matter, with titles like "Relativity: A Quartet" and "The Dream of the Unified Field," is more cosmic. I'm beginning to get her. For me the key to understanding Graham is finding the proper mood ...more
Phil Overeem
Feb 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A stunner. A former student advised me to read Graham's work, specifically this collection, and he was correct. She's difficult, but not too difficult once you synch with her rhythms and themes (waiting and desire, moments within moments, the shadows of history, impermanence). Very, very rereadable: I especially liked the poems from REGION OF UNLIKENESS (the series that seem to emanate from movie theaters is amazing),"The Tree of Knowledge," and the splendid allusions to HAMLET, WAITING FOR GODO ...more
May 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
What was most interesting to me was the way that these poems didn't read like verse or prose. Rather, I felt myself reading these poems the same way that someone looks at a painting- rich snapshots of a moment that reflect only the moment, rather than a judgement of or explanation for. An interesting collection that is well worth the read if only for the novelty of Graham's approach to her topics. I would definitely recommend this collection.
Niel Rosenthalis
Aug 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
What I've been waiting for!!! A poet who seamlessly integrates philosophical and historical urges with an eye for navigating "the shock of their being a word at all." (quoting a review on the cover). Sometimes she falls (and falls hard hard hard) but way more often than not, she literally takes my breath away.
Jun 13, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommended to me by a high school teacher/mentor my senior year, with the confession that he didn't think he understood it, but was enamored of it nonetheless. I've written on a couple of the poems, but I probably don't understand terribly much - and I'm enamored as well.

I don't care if some say she's passe - I think this book is inspiring and marvelous.
Louise Chambers
Nov 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: poets and readers of poetry
Recommended to Louise by: Denver Public Library
Shelves: poetry
After reading Sea Changes, I craved more of Jorie Graham. Can one speak of quantum physics through the medium of poetry? In my opinion, that is what Graham has masterfully done. This is a book that I would add to my collection--I truly did not want to return this to the library.
Nov 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: poets
This had a great span of her work. I didn't read everything because I decided to read each book individually because I think it gives you more of a feel of where the writer was coming from when you read a whole book together. I love Jorie Graham.
Apr 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
A great read that is helpful to poets of all levels to master writing "no ideas but in things." Jorie Graham allows you to peer into the eyes of the cognitive only when slow-dancing with the perceptive.
Mar 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Lovely! I'm a fool for poetry! This is wonderful
Oct 14, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: swords
my favorite poem from the collection: "The Age of Reason"
Jan 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
It's fascinating to follow a Graham poem from start to finish: the way she weaves in and out of narrative and lyric, melding both in a completely distinctive voice that can only be hers.
Candy Sue
Aug 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: newfavorites
Intellectual, beautiful poetry. Complex. So much more to say that I may add to later. She makes the abstract work in her poetry.
Jun 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Apr 07, 2012 rated it did not like it
Have you ever thrown a book across the room in disgust? This was mine. I was blown away by the first poem- bought the book- and proceeded to not get it. Eh. Pulitzer-Shmulitzer.
Sep 09, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Jennifer by: picked it up @ LAX; best airport purchase to date
My first exposure to Jorie Graham at the age of it on a flight across the Pacific, felt the sensation of the poems grating against laws of physics.
Artifice Magazine
Used to carry this book around in my bag w/ me all the time.
Mar 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Used to carry this book around in my bag w/ me all the time.
Avery H Cho
May 02, 2017 rated it liked it
It made more sense when I was in college
Andrew LaBelle
Nov 03, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: freshman-year
Alright so half the time I didn't know what Graham was talking about. This would be a nice collection to revisit at some point in my life once I go insane. These poems are good, really good, but so damn impregnable. The equation's about all I know:
-Totally unrelated first line heading an entirely unrelated poem
-Convoluted jargon
-Really robust end line that convinces you to start over.

The ones I did understand, however loosely, were great. Some of those:
-The Picnic
-At the Caberet Now
-What t
Slap Happy
Dec 31, 2011 rated it did not like it
Uh. Maybe this poet wasn't who I thought she was. I must have confused her with somebody else. I'm not big on poetry but found a poem I really liked (something or other about music) and I thought it was by Jorie Graham but I guess not. Couldn't find the poem in question in this here collection either.

I don't get it. What half these poems are about. Or why the lines are broken up the way they are. All those spaces between single lines and why they are numbered. I was left to wonder about the purp
Katie R. Herring
Dec 11, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: verse
This took me months to get through (and we all know I am an avid reader).

I didn't like these poems. I didn't understand, and they were hard to read. I'm not quite sure what the message was, nor am I even sure of what I read.

There were maybe two or three lines that I really liked, and all the rest I was just trying to get through.


I'm rereading a bunch of these poems for class, and I still don't like them very much. Understanding usually cause me to go "Oh, wow, this is amazing." That is no
Jul 23, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I found a few poems I enjoyed in this collection, but for the most part Jorie Graham's style just does not do much for me. Her imagery is just too obscure and amorphous most of the time, and I am left not really knowing what the poem is trying to say. I don't mind working for the meaning of a poem, but I have to enjoy the imagery along the way.
May 08, 2010 rated it did not like it
Couldn't wait to get through it, though I wanted to love it. Instead, I was terribly irritated by all the italics, (parentheses), and usages of the words "limb" and "minutes"--oh, and the dashes.
Nov 17, 2008 rated it did not like it
Boring. I think I might have liked this book had I not met the real Jorie Graham. I know that's biased, but I can't help it. Pretty elitist and overly sentimental.
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  • Interior with Sudden Joy: Poems
  • Hinge & Sign: Poems, 1968-1993
  • Human Wishes
  • Black Zodiac
  • Selected Poems
  • Repair
  • Thomas and Beulah
  • Selected Poems
  • Garbage
  • Neon Vernacular: New and Selected Poems
  • Song
  • The Country Between Us
  • Collected Poems, 1937-1971
  • New Selected Poems
  • Blizzard of One
  • Loose Sugar
  • Collected Poems
  • Heart's Needle
Jorie Graham was born in New York City in 1950, the daughter of a journalist and a sculptor. She was raised in Rome, Italy and educated in French schools. She studied philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris before attending New York University as an undergraduate, where she studied filmmaking. She received an MFA in poetry from the University of Iowa.

Graham is the author of numerous collections of poe
More about Jorie Graham...

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“the feeling of being a digression not the link in the argument,
a new direction, an offshoot, the limb going on elsewhere,

and liking that error, a feeling of being capable because an error,

of being wrong perhaps altogether wrong a piece from another set

stripped of position stripped of true function

and loving that error, loving that filial form, that break from perfection

where the complex mechanism fails, where the stranger appears in the clearing,

out of nowhere and uncalled for, out of nowhere to share the day.”
“There is a feeling the body gives the mind
of having missed something, a bedrock poverty, like falling

without the sense that you are passing through one world,
that you could reach another
anytime. Instead the real
is crossing you,

your body an arrival
you know is false but can't outrun. And somewhere in between
these geese forever entering and
these spiders turning back,

this astonishing delay, the everyday, takes place.”
More quotes…