“From tenement to ‘arm’s breadth exit ramp’ to hills and trees ‘suitable for wandering,’ Elizabeth Savage’s IDYLLIAD traces a vital new territory (not property) for American poetry. Sparse and abundant; ordinary and surprising; brutal and humane as the land from which they spring, these late lyrics wake ‘as / antonyms turning / over in the mind.’ In a world of seemingly endless war and suffering, Savage’s poetry implores us to cleave to life, to listen and remember, so that our human hearts may change.”—Ethel Rackin

“Epic and idyll collide in the pristine, masterfully compressed lyrics of Elizabeth Savage’s IDYLLIAD. Under Savage’s microscope, one West Virginia garden and home become spaces for prayer, war, and the excavation of memory—wilderness ‘wipes its feet’ and becomes ‘visible like one / who splashes past.’ These poems wander and notice, bursting with a sense of wonder for the natural and domestic world—and in that wonder lies a devastating, compassionate wisdom. Savage’s poems startle us into recognition of the incredible beauty in a single shaft of sunlight, morels after a rain storm, or the sound of a grackle in the distance. In these poems, our ‘pronged planet’ ‘hold[s] its ground’ even as we find ‘acre after acre of elegy.’ Savage’s perfectly crafted lines burst with music, and seamless metaphors meld into one another with no start or stop, enacting the infirm boundaries between the human and natural worlds. IDYLLIAD argues that it is in the natural world that we are never disowned, even when we disown it or think we own it. One poem proclaims, ‘Because there is more / craving than there is mountain / most do not care // climb or wrangle.’ In these poems, Savage climbs, wrangles, and above all, cares—for the mountain, for the craving, and for everything in between.”—Alyse Knorr

“If the idyll is idealized; if the idyll is rustic in form; if the idyll is peaceful; if the Iliad is war—IDYLLIAD is a beautiful transmutation, a perplexing hybrid of these opposing forces. Elizabeth Savage perplexes me in the most pleasant way. Her mind of winter at work in the image of a bird feeder ‘trembling with dense / bristling glitter,’ these taxonomies of Savage’s seasons. Each creature flickers on the edges of my vision. Savage’s lines give access ‘(& the ravenous / grackle hacks a passage / through).’ These poems circle a year, from the ‘gray pope / of January’ in snow through ‘when weather suits / our feathers’ to ‘the June / in juniper.’ The poems are unafraid, beautiful, ‘in battle punch the clock,’ & ‘silky like ice / in the nude.’ The truth is, I want to be in these poems for a long time; ‘the truth is / trunks are / two wings wide.’”—Pattie McCarthy

Excerpt from Idylliad:


Everywhere there is a cushion
a spacing invitation
an arm’s breadth exit ramp
caution thrown wide to race
Anywhere there is an angle
measuring a sheet of sky
Somewhere a limit, elsewhere
fine strokes
denote a wind of suspension
of trespassing intention
Thorns will climb stems
thorns will throne leaves
acre over acre of elegy
Elsewhere there is a fastening
a note pinned to your coat
another cyclone centering
suitable for wandering

2015 | 84 pages | Elizabeth Savage | Furniture Press Books
ISBN 1940092108

Available for purchase through
Small Press Distribution

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