Zorba's Daughter

by Elisabeth Murawski

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foreword by Grace Schulman

Volume 14 of the May Swenson Poetry Award Series, 2010

"Reading Murawski, I think of the poet for whom this series is named. I recall especially her wonder at the miraculous in the quotidian. Whether May Swenson's subjects are commonplace or unfamiliar, she presents them with an urgency that builds their impact. Murawski carries on that great tradition."
—Grace Schulman, from the foreword

"'Who's to say details we select are soft enough, harsh enough?' asks Elisabeth Murawski. Whether the subject is childhood or religion, history or art, these poems are filled with images that are both soft and harsh, familiar and strange, and always original and moving."
—Linda Pastan, author of Queen of a Rainy Country

"The effect is cumulative and potent; the means is restraint, lines as taut as bow strings. The poems travel into dark places to find 'the sun at work behind every beheading' and the underlying principle is music that expertly matches the journey of the poem, forcing us along until we learn 'to be perfectly still.'"
—Myra Sklarew, author of Lithuania: New & Selected Poems and former president of the artist community Yaddo

"The poem 'Patients' ends with the image of painted-eyed dolls staring up 'as if there were things in this world / they didn't want to see.' Zorba's Daughter opens our eyes and confronts us with 'the underlying / sorrow of the world.' Yet the art of the collection makes us want to see and to know. Economical with words, Elisabeth Murawski possesses a great gift for choosing exactly the right ones to unveil the unsettling mysteries that lurk within our lives."
—Walter Cummins, editor emeritus of The Literary Review


In Zorba's Daughter, the fourteenth volume in the Swenson Poetry Award series, Elisabeth Murawski speaks from a vital and unique sensibility, finding in ordinary images an opening to the passion of human courage in the face of deep existential pain and ambivalence. These poems awaken our joy as well as guilt, our hope as well as grief. They often evoke a sorrowful music, like the voice of mourning, but even in pointing to "the black holes of heaven," Murawski turns our gaze upward.

Zorba's Daughter was selected for the Swenson Award by the distinguished poet Grace Schulman. An icon of the literary scene, Schulman is acclaimed for her searching, highly original, lyric poetry, as well as for her teaching and her influential tenure as the poetry editor at The Nation (1971-2006). Harold Bloom calls her "one of the permanent poets of her generation." Richard Howard says, "she is a torch."

murawskiElisabeth during her visit to USU for a reading and presentations.

Elisabeth reads at the BYU English Reading Series


Wedding Fall-out

Ten, I wore a red hat
to the wedding, red
the color of weeping. Mine,

the bleak house, the torn
face-card. My sister flew
from our street like a stained-

glass butterfly. I wanted
her back, protection
from the king of the turning

doorknob. Hope had spots
on its skin like an old person’s.
I climbed a ladder

made of sand and forgetting.
I lost the sky, decades

of clouds. The clay-

footed saints I turned to
cackled and shuffled, twirling
their blue umbrellas.

Zorba's Daughter

Night boasted it was eternity.
But here now
through the brown links of trees
the sun spills dawn.

Light's turn (dice on a table)
to be eternal, a current
to feed her house, abruptly
wake her like a thief. Who

will teach her divine
collaboration? Who will love
her dirty hands enough
to leave her head unshaved?

She goes barefoot as the sky,
nectarine slice on a spoon,
sweet coral carnation,
little fish

with wings in her heart,
tempted to fly
from the spear
she cannot escape, resolved

to die like Samson
braced against the pillars
of the temple,
roaring for his eyes.

Elisabeth Murawski holds an MFA from George Mason University and is a well-published poet. Awarded a Hawthornden fellowship (2008), as well as residencies at the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, the Vermont Studio Center, and the Achill Heinrich Boll Association, she is author of the collection Moon and Mercury and two chapbooks--Troubled by an Angel and Out-Patients. Over 200 of her poems have appeared in journals that include Yale Review, New Republic, Virginia Quarterly Review, Field, Ontario Review, Antioch Review, Southern Review, Dubliner, Poetry Northwest, and others. The present volume has been a finalist for the Field Poetry Prize, the Brittingham and Pollak Poetry Prize, the Blue Lynx Prize for Poetry, and The Journal/OSU Poetry Prize.

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  • Ebook Price: $17.95
  • 30-day ebook rental price: $5.99
  • EISBN: 978-0-87421-797-1
  • Publication Year: 2010
  • Pages: 110
  • Discount Type: Short
  • Author: by Elisabeth Murawski
  • ECommerce Code: 978-0-87421-795-7
  • Get Permissions: Get Permission

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