The title of this collection—at times mournful, sardonic, and joyous—refers to the grief in the wake of loss. Yet these poems aren't just about the consequences of loss but also about the complex experiences of endurance, acquiescence, and rebirth that, with luck, mark the aftermath of sorrow.
I am moved to claim for these essays by the always incisive Sandra Gilbert a distinctive place in the critical canon of feminism. Her work is a comfort to me now, as it has been for some thirty years, in our increasingly dark time. - Harold Bloom
The highly esteemed literary critic and poet Sandra M. Gilbert is best known for her feminist literary collaborations with Susan Gubar, with whom she coauthored The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination, as well as the three-volume No Man's Land: The Place of the Woman Writer in the Twentieth Century. The essays assembled in On Burning Ground display Gilbert's astonishing range and explore poetics, personal identity, feminism, and modern and contempory literature. Among the pieces gathered here are essays on D. H. Lawrence, Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, and Louise Glueck, as well as reviews and previously unpublished articles.
Becoming a widow suddenly brought poet and professor Gilbert (Univ. of California, Davis) to death's door. Over the last 14 years, she has transformed dismay, grief, reflection, and research into a book that explores, embraces, dissects, and reenlivens death. . . . .Neither triumph nor requiem, Gilbert's is a sensitive and sensible masterpiece addressing the door, teaching readers to see, feel, and think, even to touch and be touched. Her work, dark but also luminous, will help not only the bereft and those around them but also a society that loves and hates death blindly. Essential for both general and academic collections." --E. James Lieberman, Library Journal
Belongings and longings of all kinds — as possessions, as the history and furnishings of a life, and as the places in which life itself happens — preoccupy the prize-winning poet Sandra Gilbert throughout this affecting collection. Ranging from journeys into the past to literal and figurative travels in the present, Belongings explores the question: "Where, how, and to what do you belong?" “These powerful, graceful poems evoke a world of intense contradictions. Place is made real, with a sensuous exactitude, but only so as to serve a beautiful crisis of displacement, which runs right through this book. These are wonderful affirming poems which never shirk the cost of real affirmation.” — Eavan Boland
“Prepare to be dazzled and delighted by the richly imaginative assemblage of poems in Kissing the Bread. Like Gilbert’s volumes of criticism, this collection sets a standard by which her contemporaries are sure to be judged.”
-Women’s Review of Books
On February 10, 1991, Elliot Gilbert, a sixty-year-old professor, checked into a major medical center for routine surgery. Twenty-four hours later, he was pronounced dead in the recovery room. To this day, no one from the hospital has told his family how or why he died. In Wrongful Death, his widow has produced a gripping account of one family’s experience with a medical disaster. Sandra Gilbert describes her own and her children’s shock and grief; the process of discovery through which they began to learn something about what had happened; and the bewildering complexity of the legal, social, and medical questions surrounding “adverse events” like the one that killed her husband.
In this beautiful and brilliant collection, Sandra Gilbert collects the poems she wrote in memory of her husband's unexpected and inexplicable death. "Widow's Walk," the book's centerpiece, charts the poet's journey through the stages of grief, while in longer and more formal works Gilbert seeks both to elegize her husband and to understand his death in public, political, and philosophical contexts. Ghost Volcano is a tender, courageous, loving, and ultimately universal account of how we endure grief.
Death has always served as one of the most powerful catalysts for poetry. Whether, with Dylan Thomoas, counseling readers to “Rage, rage against the dying of the light,” or with Walt Whitman, taking comfort in the serene arrival “sooner or later” of “delicate death,” poets throughout history have faced the mortal losses that all of us inevitably encounter. Inventions of Farewell collects English-language poems of mourning from the late Middle Ages to the present. Poetic styles have altered over the centuries, yet the great and often terrifying themes of time, change, age, and death are timeless. The poems here - by writers from Emily Dickinson, Wallace Stevens, and Edna St. Vincent Millay to Sharon Olds, Lucille Clifton, and W. S. Merwin - trace the trajectory of grief, but they also illustrate how the deepest sorrow has produced countless poignant and resonant works of art - words that can aid us as we struggle with our own farewells.