Oliver de la Paz, Furious Lullaby

I just got back from the AWP conference in Chicago. It was the biggest ever, with 10,000 writers converging on a couple of hotels and (of course) several bars in downtown Chicago. I’m still processing my various responses to it, but I wanted to say something about just one of the books I picked up there, Furious Lullaby by Oliver de la Paz. I actually own this book already–or think I do–but hadn’t gotten around to reading it yet (sorry, Oliver!). I happened to be at the right place and the right time to get the author to sign it for the graduate student who was dog-sitting for us during the conference, also a poet. It’s the perfect gift, and Oliver kindly even mentioned my dogs in his inscription. This being a gift, I had to keep it safe, and so it ended up in my carry-on luggage. I opened it up on the plane and began to read.

Normally I try to wait until I’m finished with a book before writing about it, but I’m not confident I’ll be able to recapture the joy I felt as I was first reading this once I’ve been home for a while. How utterly lucky I felt, to come from a place filled with the love of writing and writers, where I had the great fortune to spend time with friends who make me feel whole in this world, and then to find that feeling extended and amplified by the insight of another poet on the page. Some quotes that made me swoon from this book:

“…the instinct to love/is the exact memory of flight for mourning doves.” (from “Aubade with Doves, a Television, and Fire“)

“I was trying to remember a word/standing for light and rhyming//with innocent sex.” (from “The Devil’s Book”)

“My imaginings sometimes take me/away from you.” (from “Aubade with a Book and the Rattle from a String of Pearls“)

“Not memory,/though horses live in both worlds and forgive us…then the clop of hoof on grass as if to say here is heaven./Thus the horses forgive, though they look above.” (from “Aubade with Constellations, Some Horses, and Snow”)

“There are ruins we witness/within the moment of the world’s first awakening/and the birds love you within that moment. They want/to eat the air and the stars they’ve hungered for, little razors.” (from “Aubade with Bread for the Sparrows”)


So for me, this is what AWP is about. All kinds of other things, too. But really, this.

Writers, keep writing. And I wish you all joy in your reading.

March 4, 2012. Uncategorized.

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