The Holy Worm of Praise: Poems

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9780151006663: The Holy Worm of Praise: Poems

the holy worm of our tongues singing praise
our faces shining like cities our being one among many
our climbing Jacob's ladder to rock in the arms of angels
our walking here and there on the earth and looking around

Philip Schultz's work has always evoked "a brilliant cavalcade of people
and images that make you want to laugh and cry at the same time"
(Yehuda Amichai), but the poems in this new collection-his first in fifteen years--register a movement from desire, pain, and loss to sympathy, understanding, and love. In these meditations on friendship and the forgotten of our world, these elegies for the displaced and cherished dead, there is something new and wonderful-praise.
From the seemingly trivial hums and beeps of an answering machine to the painful experience of being touched by Alzheimer's, these extraordinary poems suffuse human experience with the wonder, laughter, and luminosity of life. With an intensity akin to prayer, they celebrate love--be it sexual, familial, romantic, or otherwise--in all its wonder and complexity, singing praise for what is most vulnerable, beautiful, and innocent in ourselves.

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About the Author:

Philip Schultz is the author of several collections of poetry. His work has been published in countless magazines, including the New Yorker, Partisan Review, the New Republic, and the Paris Review. He has received awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Academy of American Poets, as well as the Levinson Award from Poetry magazine. He lives in East Hampton, New York.

From Publishers Weekly:

His first in 15 years, Schultz's third collection of poems confirms this poet's calling as an elegist, whether remembering his mother ("Apartment Sale," "Nomads," "Stories"), his father ("Mr. Parsky"), or writers like Yehuda Amichai, Joseph Brodsky, John Cheever and William Dickey. The long poem that concludes the book, "Souls Over Harlem," provides a stark account of a friend who "parked on a cliff in the cold wind of the Pacific and stuck his mulatto face in a plastic bag and drank snail poison, and burned his intestines to an ash transparency." Over the course of the poem, Schultz's guilt over not being able to save his friend is interwoven with his diffidence over the gap between his lifestyle as a Hampton-izing New Yorker and the plight of so many inner-city Blacks in Harlem. The frisson of better city living is sent up in the ode "City Dogs," with "fancy over-fluffed pedigrees prattling toward pedicures, Saturday afternoon perambulations in Village runs." Schultz has tendencies toward poems that read like lineated prose ("My Friend Is Making Himself," "The Answering Machine," "Ars Poetica," "Personally") and an excessive use of weak similes, as in this schmaltzy passage from "Change," a poem that incorporates over a dozen: "Surely you've never tasted it before, lavender, like lilacs on the first fine day of May, the happiest of seasons. Now your heart is thumping like a tail." Schultz is at his best in the gritty voice of a "Prison Doctor," who bears witness to this world in all its woundedness where gold teeth are "sliced out of sleeping mouths for trophy earrings, all paranoia's graffiti pleading Doc please yank this sardine-can shaft, this mea culpa, out of my memory."
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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