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Happy 102nd birthday, Naomi Replansky!
Nominated for the National Book Award in 1952, Naomi Replansky’s first book Ring Song dazzled critics with its candor and freshness of language. Here at long last is the new and collected work of a lifetime by a writer hailed as “one of the most brilliant American poets” by George Oppen. Replansky is a poet whose verse combines the compression of Emily Dickinson, the passion of Anna Akhmatova, and the music of W.H. Auden. These poems, which Marie Ponsot calls “sixty years of a free woman’s song,” are Replansky’s hymns to the struggle for justice and equality and to the enduring beauty of life in our dangerous world.
Naomi Replansky’s poetry rings with reality and wisdom, and it is always song. Her observant, political wit and gravity are as piercing and as necessary now as ever – and I would say more so . . . her voice and her way of reading are among the very best we have.
Naomi Replansky is a major American poet, long overdue for acclaim. She writes skillfully, both in and out of strict form, crafting lines carefully, with concision and rare intensity. Her poems are the real thing; her collected work of a lifetime deserves the widest possible hearing.
—X. J. Kennedy
Here in a book, the work of a life. All the poet Naomi Replansky is here: the dry, quiet voice, the incantatory and familiar rhythms that are never quite what you think they are, the wit, the touch of comfort, and the tongue-lash, the modesty that entirely frees her from trend, and the audacity – above all the audacity, the risk-taking, the nerve of the woman! These poems bear honest witness to what it was to be alive, really alive, in the twentieth century, and I turn to them again and again for courage to face the dark opening of the twenty-first.
—Ursula Le Guin
The free and savvy poems of Naomi Replansky soar, in a speech that urgently affirms a strength we’ve almost forgotten we have. Clear as water and as necessary, they quicken our solitary selves. The light pulse of their instantly shared energy shows us each other and joins us in our eagerness to speak out as they do, against confusion. They are bold and embolden us. We hear the true polis alive under the dirty air of truthless ping and we participate in its power. To participate in power is freedom, Cicero says. These poems, proposing sixty years of a free woman’s song, wake us up to it. Their cadences and claims uncover the given world and make us think. We do so willingly because the beat they keep is the rhythm of the heart.
Naomi Replansky . . . has gained much reverence as a major voice in American poetry for honest work and speaking with clarity.
—The Midwest Book Review