Read Trances of the Blast by Mary Ruefle Online


"One of the wisest books I've read in years, and it would be a shame to think that only poets will read it."—David Kirby, The New York Times Book Review, on Madness, Rack, and Honey"What a civil, undomesticable, and heartening poet is Mary Ruefle . . . any Ruefle poem is an occasion of resonant wit and language, subject to an exacting intelligence."—Rodney Jones, Poetry So"One of the wisest books I've read in years, and it would be a shame to think that only poets will read it."—David Kirby, The New York Times Book Review, on Madness, Rack, and Honey"What a civil, undomesticable, and heartening poet is Mary Ruefle . . . any Ruefle poem is an occasion of resonant wit and language, subject to an exacting intelligence."—Rodney Jones, Poetry Society of America, William Carlos Williams Award citationTrances of the Blast is a major new collection from recent National Book Critics Circle Award finalist Mary Ruefle. Full of Ruefle's particular wisdom and wit, the poems deliver her imaginative take on the world's rifts—its paradoxes, failures, and loss—and help us better appreciate its redeeming strangeness.If only I'd understood that lonelinesswas just loneliness, only lonelinessand nothing more.But I was blind.Little did I know.If only I'd invented salt.I might have died happy.I wish I loved you,but you can't have everything.Mary Ruefle is the author of many books of prose, poetry, and erasures. She is the recipient of the William Carlos Williams Award, an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, and a Whiting Award. Her book of lectures, Madness, Rack, and Honey, was named a finalist for the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award. She lives and teaches in Vermont....

Title : Trances of the Blast
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781933517735
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 136 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Trances of the Blast Reviews

  • s.p
    2019-03-24 19:58

    The world was designed and builtto overwhelm and astonish.Which makes it hard to like.Mary Ruefle has been a favorite of mine for some time now, yet I’ve constantly failed to put my appreciation into words. Her poetry is near ineffable beauty. Selected Poems left me stunned into speechlessness, and I’ve always been unable to review it. Reading Ruefle is like a being a newborn child picked up from the crying in a crib by it’s mother; the child cannot focus vision enough to really see her, has no sense of language to describe the effect, just knows that this is something warm and welcoming and safe to engulf you in it’s love, something that you need deep down. Trances of the Blast by the decorated and loved Vermont College MFA professor poet is likely the best work she has penned. Full of her typical charm, wit, insight and humour—for poems permeated with themes of loneliness and mortality, Ruefle is laugh-out-loud hilarious at many moments—Trances has a unique intellectual sensuality from the lighter touch to her poems and a joyful sense of playfulness and surrealistic probings into the mortal condition. The Bunny Gives Us a Lesson in EternityWe are a sad people, without hats.The history of our nation is tragically benign.We like to watch the rabbits screwing in the graveyard.We are fond of the little bunny with the bent earwho stands alone in the moonlightreading what little text there is on the graves.He looks quite desirable like that.He looks like the center of the universe.Look how his mouth moves mouthing the wordswhile the others are busy making more of him.Soon the more will ask of him to write their loveletters and he will oblige, using the languageof our ancestors, those poor clouds in the ground,beloved by us who have been standing here for hours,a proud people after all.'Explain yourself or vanish,' writes Ruefle, and Trances evoked such passion within me that I must insult the ineffable with meek pillars of words simply to celebrate her beauty. Ruefle hits all the right notes yet they are difficult to pin down, elusive and weightless as the wind across a wonderous sunset. She clearly has a dexterous working knowledge of poetic theory (consult Madness, Rack, and Honey: Collected Lectures for her lectures of poetry), yet she keeps the seams and clockwork under a polished exterior that seems to grow up from the ground plain and pure and perfect or like a stunningly played round of beginners luck as if nothing could be more natural and true. Her poems are like those seemingly impossible architectural structures. There is certainly an extensive study into architectural engineering in the design and framework skeleton hidden inside, but from outside it looks like a miracle.Broken SpokeYou grow oldYou love everybody.You forgive everyone.You think: we are all leavesdragged along by a wheel.Then comes a splendid spottedyellow one—ah, distinction!And in that momentyou are dragged under.Ruefle is a beacon of hope and light in a world where we are born to die, growing in the soils of pain, friendships, failure, joy and loneliness until we inevitably wilt. Through her, we can watch the absurdity of it all and laugh, comforted in the arms of her words. This is the junk of everyday life, she says, transforming our basic moments into visions of sprawling brilliance. Ruefle has the ability to find the hidden in the plain, or to reconstruct reality into something more fitting (see her white-out poetry in A Little White Shadow for her ingenuity in finding the brightest spark in a starry night). She walks us through fields of death, from loved ones to historic ones, as well as acceptance of her own impending death:will you take me homeand hold me in the palm of your hand,posthumously, anonymously,and when the time is rightblow me away?¹She looks back at the bewilderment of childhood, and how this reaction to reality penetrates our lives upward through our years, and prances about loneliness with flair and frivolity without washing out the dark undertones and weight.My life.Is a passing Septemberno one will recall.Mary Ruefle is poetry's sweetheart, and this collection blew my heart about like rickety shutters in gale force winds. While she is difficult to pin down, this collection moves with such fluid grace and skill that it is impossible not to respond and discover a smile blossoming on your lips. A fragment from the poem White Buttons can be applied to my reaction to this collection:Having been blown awayby a bookI am in the gutterat the end of the streetin little pieces like the alphabet(Mother do not worryletters are not fleshthough there’s meaning in them…Ruefle has a wealth of theory to tap into, but doesn’t let the theory theory of her brain overpower the creative parts and manages to avoid any self-conscious flinches in the text. Ruefle writes with crystal clear confidence and the poetry patriotism reverberates deep in the reader. There are multiple levels of artistic intellect functioning at all times, yet the the poetry reads as from the heart and not from the head. Roll these words up with your eyes, lick it sealed with your soul and inhale deep, Ruefle will get you to that sweet, comfortable headspace high.5/5¹ This, of course, speaking of both her as a posthumous, but of her poetry as well. The greatest gift of literature is that words on paper outlive the efforts of flesh. The self-referential nods to her poetry also associate with the epigraph for this collection, taken from the book of Revelations:Go, and take the little book which is open in the hand. Take it, and eat it up; and it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey, but it shall make thy belly bitter.-Revelations XThis passage is a battlecry for poetry, especially in the case of Ruefle where her words seduce yet plunge you into expositions on dark and bitter human truths. ‘Honey’ and ‘bitter’ await the reader in many of the poems, nestled in the words like a children’s Search-and-Find activity book, and Ruefle delivers her own variation of the warning of words in the belly within the poem Abdication:You can feel the poetry rottingin your stomach.You know with absolute certaintyreality is the thing turned towards you. This erudite playfulness is the ace up the sleeve for Ruefle and she plays it at the just the right moments.A Penny for Your ThoughtsHow are we to find eight short English wordsthat actually stand for autumn?One peculiar way to die of lonelinessis to try. Pretend November hasa sliver of ice in her throat.Pretend it is nice, pretend the sliverof ice is nice, and beckons you.Talk for half an hour about the little churchyardfull of the graves of people who have diedeating nachos. Go on until you can go no further brown.Let the river flow. It is written in stone.Let the sparrows take your only coinand fly with it, twittering over some main event.What color ribbon will you wear in your hair?Now the clouds look burnt. But first they burned.To you I must tell all or lie.ProvenanceIn the fifth gradeI made a horse of papier-macheand painted it whiteand named it AuroraWe were all going to the hospitaleach one with his little animalto give to the girl who waslying on her deathbed therewhose name I can’t recallA classmate with freckles perhapsor such small feet her footstepsnever mattered muchI did not want to give her anythingIt seemed unfair she got to ride Aurorawhom I made with my own two handsand took aside at birth and said gowhile I had to walkperhaps for a very long timeI thought perhaps the animalswould all come backtogether and on one daybut they never didAnd so I have had to deal with wildintractable people all my daysand have been led astray in a worldof shattered moonlight and beasts and treeswhere no one ever even curtsies anymoreor has an understudySo I have gone up to the little roomin my face, I am making somethingout of a jar of frecklesand a jar of glueI hated childhoodI hate adulthoodAnd I love being alive

  • Sienna
    2019-04-16 20:39

    On that April afternoon, I quietly chose a seat in the middle of the auditorium at City Gallery Wellington and waited. I'm a fiddler, alternating between the Kindle app on my iPod and half-hearted attempts to find an open wireless network, a leg-twitcher, a cautious observer. One of my favorite writers sat down beside me with her husband; other book-jacket-familiar faces appeared, smiling at one another and filling up the room.To be honest, I had only read a few of Mary Ruefle's poems before deciding to make the trek into town for her Writers on Mondays session. Best decision of the year? She's as engaging a reader as she is a writer, wry, funny, full of conviction and secrets she gives you the sense she's revealed just for you, the audience so swiftly won over. Yep, that was me: googling "Saga" as soon as I got home. It was the first piece she read, the first piece I fell for. And, with Trances of the Blast, it's finally in print:Everything that ever happened to meis just hanging — crushedand sparkling — in the air,waiting to happen to you.Everything that ever happened to mehappened to somebody else first.I would give you an examplebut they are all invisible.Or off gallivanting around the globe.Not here when I need themnow that I need themif I ever did which I doubt.Being particular has its problems.In particular there is a rift through everything.There is a rift running the length of Icelandand so a rift runs through every familyand between families a feud.It's called a saga. Rifts and sagasfill the air, and beautiful old womensing of them, so the air is filled with music and the smell of berries and applesand shouting when a gun goes offand crying in closed rooms.Faces, who needs them?Eating the blood of orangesI in my alcove could use one.Abbas and ammas!come out of your huts, travelhalfway around the world,inspect my secret bank account of joy!My face is a jar of honeyyou can look through,you can see everythingis muted, so terribly muted,who could ever speak of it,sealed and held up for all?This is how Ruefle opens her newest collection: confessional and conversational, elliptic without being cryptic, wise and elemental. These trances read a bit like a far-flung jigsaw of a map piecing together the author's exploded memory palace and surrounding gardens and caves. (We all have caves, yeah? Ha ha, "Platonic.") I love that I can time travel back to April and hear her voice when I read "Goodnight Irene" and "Provenance." The watchwords here are time, loneliness, happiness, the themes memories of childhood and family, the relationships between writing and language, writer and audience. The effect is utterly charming and compelling, scratching that sweet readerly spot where head and heart meet.The first half strikes me as stronger. Ruefle gives us "Spikenard" and "Are We Alone? Is It Safe to Speak?" She dreams of Wilhelm Müller, "Receiving News of the Devastation of My Mind" and her "Favorite Song." She delights and appeases with "Apologia," and "One World at a Time" brings to mind the opening of Rose Macaulay's wonderful The Towers of Trebizond. Mostly she shares little bits of perfection, as in this unexpectedly Brautigan-esque snippet:ArgotThe moon passes her twentieth night.Month after month, she dies so young.What are the trout thinking?At dawn on the thirteenthI am lost in the great expanseof tiny thoughts.When I say trout I mean you.But the second half is no slouch, either. "Poem Written Before I Was Born" is performance art waiting to happen at a future reading. I can't even talk about the wistful wonder of "Pipkins of the Mimulus." I'm flipping through the pages again and getting caught up in patterns I missed the first time around, at once happy and, well, lonely, or simply satisfied with solitude as I lose myself in Ruefle's words. See, here's the conclusion of "Jumping Ahead," with its double-dog-daring, heart-stopping speculation and confrontation:If only I'd invented salt.I might have died happy.I wish I loved you,but you can't have everything.I ought to have had bizarre erroneous beliefs.If only I'd had gigantic forelegs attached to my legsI'd have leapt off the edgeevery time I came to the edge of you.(And comfort. I find this one weirdly reassuring. Ditto for "Broken Spoke.")This review is hopelessly biased, this book one of my favorites of the year. The part of me that remembers and believes that "there are things more important / than life or death" wants time to pass quickly so that I can look forward to reading it from a new perspective, and to read more new poems from Ruefle. A little bit mad, a lot true, like "Picking Up Pinecones":I light a few candles, sothe moon is no longer alone.My secret heart wakesinside its draped cageand cracks a song.After a life of imagining,I notice the ceiling.It is painted bluewith a border of pinecones.I've spent my life in a forest.Picking up new things,will it never end?Ye gods, I hope not.

  • Jim Coughenour
    2019-04-02 15:45

    This slim hard handsome volume is packed with Ruefle delights. I haven't enjoyed the turns of a poem this much since I first read Kay Ryan. The boldfaced titles alone are worth the price of the book. I could tell you more, but why? Read it. These poems make you lucky.

  • Valerie
    2019-04-09 16:38

    I always like Mary Ruefle's poetry. She is consistently good, and I've enjoyed every book of poetry of hers that I've read. I didn't like this one as much as the others that I read, but it was still good.The linebreaks felt really choppy this time. I looked at some of the poems I liked in her other books, and they aren't a lot shorter than these but the lines seem broken in better places. Ruefle has poems that lines end with words like "the" or "of." I also think the poems overall were a little less inventive. Not terrible, but her other poems were fantastic so there is a really high established standard. I liked her shorter poems better than her longer poems in this book.My favorite poems in this book:ArgotJumping AheadBroken SpokeGoodnight Irene (This is the last poem example and is two pages long)

  • Heavy Feather
    2019-04-01 22:02

    From HFR contributor Karen Craigo:"I first approached Mary Ruefle’s latest collection Trances of the Blast like a recent virgin, I guess—I read and reread each poem in order; I tried to make sense of them; I examined the technique and appreciated certain tricks of the line. Ruefle, though, is a consummate practitioner of her art, and you do best when you put yourself in her competent and creative hands and let the poetry wash over you. There is much to think about, but in the moment, if you dwell too much on the mechanics, you run the risk of missing the magic."Full review here:

  • Dan Butterfass
    2019-04-13 18:44

    I'm not done with the book yet, as I giddily jumped around after unwrapping it from the publisher--end, middle, and beginning, my own sneak previews, but now I have again started at the beginning--and am only on page 17, up through the poem "Middle School," the funniest serious poem I have read among thousands in a long time. I've read it five times now, each time it's funnier, funnier yet with more wine....Mary Ruefle and August Kleinzahler are doing more to inform and advance contemporary poetry than any other poets still on the oxygenated side of earth....thank you and goodnight!

  • Momo
    2019-03-24 19:07

    "I light a few candles, so / the moon is no longer alone," says the speaker in "Picking Up Pinecones," the last poem in this lovely and keen melancholy-happy-funny-sad volume. Each poem here is like a candle lit to show us that we (reader and writer) are not alone--words that ward off or contend with or acknowledge or even celebrate the lurking dark.

  • Lindsey
    2019-04-15 16:03

    Favorites: "Paris by Moonlight," "Happy," "Pipkins of the Mimulus," "Saga," "Are We Alone? Is It Safe to Speak?," "Provenance," "Apologia," "Hold That Thought," "Women in Labor," "The Bunny Gives Us a Lesson in Eternity," "Broken Spoke," "Narrow Road to the North," and "Sudden Additional Energy"

  • Dannie
    2019-04-15 19:38

    Ruefle is hilarious. It might be because I'm also a fan of serious poems tinged with humor, but I highly enjoyed this. Some poems will definitely leave you confused, but even within those, there's usually at least one line you can grab onto.

  • Nicole Testa
    2019-03-26 19:40

    I'm always impressed when I read Mary Ruefle's poetry, by her disregard of convention. She uses words I forget exist (or am just learning the existence of), and phrasing that I hardly ever see used in contemporary poetry. Refreshing and soul-squishing.

  • Jay
    2019-04-07 14:02

    "And if by chance that makes you happy / Explain yourself or vanish."

  • Arielle Lipset
    2019-04-13 19:53

    Amazing read.

  • Kelli Trapnell
    2019-04-18 18:45

    Beautiful, relatable, surprising, weird. Lyric. Everything I want in poetry.

  • rachel selene
    2019-04-12 16:43

    ”I hated childhoodI hate adulthood And I love being alive”in my library copy, a reader who came before me has circled this verse and penciled in two words: me too.

  • Sam
    2019-03-24 14:44

    Great little poems that are very personal and feel coarse, unrefined and at the same time beautiful. This is the first set of poems that I've read by Ruefle and as such I'm comparing them to other poets I've read rather than against her earlier work.Her language and structure are not at all difficult to read and seem to build upon the small viscera of everyday life. There are some that are a bit more abstract or even surreal but on the whole they play with images and ideas more so (or at least more so on the surface) than purely with words divorced from the image.It's funny that her poems seem similar to ones that I've written or imagine I might write, though they are "better" for the most part. That said, the similarity in style and their apparent simplicity do make me want to take up my own pen more. I can imagine this set having a similar effect on others - maybe a good book to give to budding poets/students? I can only speak for myself but I think this is definitely an easy volume to recommend to others, even those largely unversed (ha!) with contemporary poetry.

  • TinHouseBooks
    2019-03-23 20:44

    Cheston Knapp (Managing editor of Tin House): I really hate it how some folks talk about poetry as though it were that flavor of jelly belly you carefully pick around, like buttered popcorn or jelly or, if they don’t have the gene (the Pleasure Gene), licorice. How they act like poetry is some course you can skip. As though it were not an entire fucking meal. So I’ve been dining out on some poetry. Read Mary Ruefle’s new collection, Trances of the Blast, which was like a hearty salad with fruit and foreign cheese in it, arugula and mixed berries with some semi-firm sheep’s feta. I want to take the menu home with me. Seriously, though, can’t recommend this book enough. Do your tummy a solid.

  • Ben G
    2019-04-05 20:48

    "Trances of the Blast" reads as an update of traditional lyricism, and as an update it retains the big bangs and epiphanies of the form while paring language back. The language is plain for a poet, anyway - there are still sacrums, cisterns and mimuluses. But she's aiming to string images together without leaving a painterly mark.I tend to enjoy poetry that includes some showiness for its own sake, but after devouring Ruefle's "Madness, Rack & Honey" (a collection of lectures), I felt better equipped to unpack her lyrics. 3.5 stars.

  • A
    2019-03-28 17:55

    "When we never went snorkeling / but nonetheless sensed people / are more capable of floating by / than any other creature"You may not linger on every word Mary Ruefle writes, but you will remember them. They will float and glide by you as you go about your day and question the relationship between fife and rifle and strife and life. This is my first exposure to the poet. It will not be my last.

  • Emily
    2019-04-07 15:55

    Just finished my second read. These poems read quickly, but don't be deceived — each one will open up a new space in your brain, like walking a labyrinth, or really deep meditation. Clear some space for this collection and spend due time with it — it's worth it. Also, I've decided that at least in this collection, Ruefle's poetry reminds me of Niedecker and of the prose of Lucia Berlin — the language is quotidian, but its uses are often quite complex.

  • Hans
    2019-04-04 14:57

    4.5 stars - Mary Ruefle has been knocking my readerly socks off lately. I keep taking photos of her poems and texting them to friends. Lots to love in this volume. "New Morning" and "Sudden Additional Energy" are a couple favorites.

  • Terresa
    2019-04-11 14:50

    Deserts, Walt Whitman, a game of solitaire, herons, a condition of the eye. As Ruefle writes, who does she become? All of these things: some loveliness, loneliness, dark earth, and a face like a jar of honey.

  • Hailey Leithauser
    2019-03-23 15:55

    As always Ruefle is a joy to read. I gave it four rather than five stars only because it is not my favorite of her books -- but still it is well worth the reading.

  • Rory
    2019-04-15 19:39

    "All things written feel a little terrified at firstas though come to destroy usand with a loud voiceand all amazedand immediately..."

  • Brian
    2019-03-24 14:38

    Truly excellent, packed with incredible moments of insight, wisdom, music. Can't wait to reread again, more slowly.

  • Charlie O'Hay
    2019-04-15 15:04

    Ruefle is in top form in this collection. Highly recommended, both for those who know her work and for those coming to it for the first time.

  • erin
    2019-03-28 17:51

    can't stop thinking about "provenance". "I thought perhaps the animals / would all come back / together and on one day / but they never did". and then some. I love it.

  • Vincent Scarpa
    2019-04-15 19:02

    Unsurprisingly & undoubtedly great. Ruefle's poems are deceivingly simple while being among the most daring & vulnerable.

  • emma
    2019-04-18 18:41

    ruefle has this way of writing Poetry that feels a capital p, feels somehow traditionally and intelligent... without any of the stuffiness or pretentiousness of poets too smart for mortals. her poems are homey and visual and thoughtful and careful, and i wish i could take ruefle’s class. i guess i just thank god that she has a book of lectures 😊

  • Cassie Lahmann
    2019-03-25 14:57

    Liked it more when I read it unhappy and depressed

  • Brian Wasserman
    2019-04-15 18:44

    whimsical, a lack of vision robs many of these poems blind