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The Little Space

Poems Selected and New, 1968–1998

This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.


In this selection of poems from thirty years of a distinguished writing career, we see the growth of a poet’s mind, heart, and spirit as Ostriker struggles to love “this wounded / World that we cannot heal, that is our bride.” Whether she probes the meaning of childhood, family, marriage, and motherhood, or art, history, politics, and God; whether she is celebrating sexuality or confronting mortality, the poet includes “whatever I can grasp of human experience within my art—the good and beautiful, the evil and chaotic. I tell my students that they must write what they are afraid to write; and I attempt to do so myself.”

From Publishers Weekly

Oct 12, 1998 – The title of this deeply moving collection is from a Blake epigram, "For we are put on earth a little space/ That we may learn to bear the beams of love." For Ostriker, too, love and feeling must be endured and false comfort stripped, but this impulse remains at odds with the sheltering responsibilities of a poet as mother and teacher. (Ostriker is a Rutgers English professor.) Such enveloping contrasts--"The kernel of death/ Life wraps itself around/ Like chamois cloth/ Around a diamond// Ice/ Cold at the center"--are here made simultaneously funny and tragic, intense and conversational, politically charged and personally graphic. Ostriker writes textured, metaphorical descriptions of everything from the Holocaust, Monet, sex education guru Alan Gutmacher, and gym showers: the erotic imagination is "a flock of puffy doves/ ...White contours begging caressing thumbs,/ the thready/ Magenta entrails." Throughout her career, Ostriker has deftly employed rhythm and meter in such a way as to take a decidedly ambiguous stance toward tradition and continuity (for a son: "you were those things/ I saw! and I have seen./ I shall be singing this/ when all the forests you have burned are green"). Though sometimes failing to make her lines move seamlessly between personal and political trauma ("So from now on you are responsible./ That is what we mean when we say/ consciouness is a curse"), Ostriker, with a rare intelligence, works to do justice to both. FYI: The Little Space has been nominated for a National Book Award.
The Little Space
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  • $11.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Poetry
  • Published: Nov 15, 1998
  • Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
  • Seller: University of Pittsburgh Press
  • Print Length: 240 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.5 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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