Valentine


  • Author, Ruth Maus
  • Meadowlark - September 2019
  • ISBN: 978-1-7322410-6-0

  • BISAC:
  • Nonfiction > Poetry > Women Authors
  • Nonfiction > Poetry > General

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Wry and rue---it sounds like the recipe for a craft cocktail.  But those are really the main ingredients in Ruth Maus’s sly wise and expansive book, even or especially in the poems that really are about cocktails.  Most of her poems are short—and a lot bigger than they seem, poems marked by gallows humor and a poker face, and with just a twitch of a tell that reveals how much lies beneath their surface.

Michael Gorra, author of Portrait of a Novel: Henry James 
and the Making of an American Masterpiece


In Valentine, Ruth Maus offers a love letter to the world, powering her lines with the engines of parallel structure, formal play, and bright image. Using diction that is conversational, at times outright rollicking, we’re invited into a world where the righteousness of salt / on a monster margarita / sings psalm and hallelujah enough, while the speaker considers romantic temptations, one’s call to art, and what lies ahead. This is a creative and sprightly collection.

Sandra Beasley, author of Count the Waves


Witty and contemporary, Maus’s poems are an energetic delight. Maus seems to blend the magic of the folk tale with the cutting crackle and static of modern life. The results are like blasts from the radio, when you turn the dial—each unique, each with something different to say.

                                                                 Kevin Rabas, Like Buddha-Calm Bird,                                                                      Poet Laureate of Kansas, 2017-2019


There’s a feistiness to Ruth Maus’s Valentine that I love—not irreverence or contrarianism for its own sake, but a dissatisfaction with dominant perspectives. Look at the world again from this angle, the poems insist: How does it feel to be a fossil? Dont people play possum, too? What makes you think Humpty Dumpty wasn’t a girl? Maus poses these sneakily metaphysical questions and then proceeds to answer them, with brio and poise, in the most extravagantly musical language.
           
            Eric McHenry, author of Odd Evening,
            Poet Laureate of Kansas, 2015-2017



Like a heart-shaped box of assorted candies, Ruth Maus’s Valentine has a confection for everyone; here you will find poems that spring off in unexpected directions of style, syntax, content, and form. You may, as I do, take special delight in her use of internal rhymes and luscious word choice: “At the pool the bronzed assemble, / greased and horizontal, in a / bake-off of burnt offerings to / their temperamental god”  (“The Sun Worshippers”). You may love the way she can say so much so economically: “you’re one vanity beyond beauty and one / shiver past any comfort” (“Dawn in the Land of Odds”). You may find yourself rolling her canted rhymes over your tongue (from “Persuasion (In Three Acts)”): “stiff appendages” and “sleepiest places”; “stumble” and “kibble”; “crescendo” and “falsetto”; “libretto” and “bel canto.” I kept stumbling across unforgettable images: “herds of umbrellas / crossing the plains of a rainy intersection” (from “One Day While Driving”) and exquisite juxtapositions: “We rose up tux / and organdy, tongue and salt-juice skin, / torque and piston” (from “Last Tango in D.C.”); “…winters / knots of leaden woolens / and clotted theorems…/ croakers cheeky for love” (from “Solstice”). There is music here as well; I found myself singing along with Maus: “and crocodiles shed tears and repo men repossess / and the universe wears a starry organza dress” (from “Communities”), “…displayed true courage, challenged evil thought / provoked a revolution, belled the cat, / traversed the pirate seas with swag and swat, / rolled up the sunshine into butterfat…” (from the sonnet “Curriculaum Vitae”). I urge you to dip into this delicious collection; you will likely find that Ruth Maus has whipped up a poem suited just to your taste and appetite.


                        Roy J. Beckemeyer, author of Stage Whispers 
and Music I Once Could Dance To

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