Paperback / softback
January 19, 2017
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.35 Pounds (US)
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v2.1 Reference

The Spirit Papers

All right, I'm a little afraid.
It's the zeroing in of All That Could
Possibly Go Wrong vs. Myself.
—"Small Talk with an Imagined Son"

The Spirit Papers explores the magical thinking that precedes impending and inevitable loss, the taboo fantasia that occurs in the crippling timelessness of anticipation. Grieving for the future with a spiritual clarity characterized by ritual and doubt, Metzger's lines are chameleons to every feeling. In the interminable window of expecting the unexpected, the poems ultimately materialize the very events they wish to ward off. The Spirit Papers chases mortality with equal parts disbelief and love.

About the Author

Elizabeth Metzger is poetry editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books Quarterly Journal.


"The Spirit Papers is a haunted book. Elizabeth Metzger's striking poems, limber and torqued, conjure phantom presences and palpable absences, in which the dreamed-of imagines the dreamer: 'You dream of me writing/your name on paper/adding in pencil a live.'  Metzger probes enigmas of kinship, often filial, and navigates a restless sense of estrangement, poignantly fixed on 'the halo of what's un-begun.' The Spirit Papers, finally, and successfully, builds a world—a world built as much out of what's found, as out of what resists being found."—James Haug, Juniper Prize for Poetry judge and author of Legend of the Recent Past

"'A kettle whistles for nobody home./And the wishes you never/and the others you will' says what's in the heart of Elizabeth Metzger's The Spirit Papers.  In these intimately naked poems love, and the anticipation of love's inevitable losses, lets us see into the endless facets our imaginations contrive to if not console us, to keep us going. The book gives us the encouragement we get from feeling we are in this together and from what's unbegun we're given some hope, maybe to conjure a kinder us. Precision, quiet daring, a decision to not waste a word, assigns a ceremonial aspect to poems whose lines ask us to take with them the time it takes to let the spirit in."—Dara Wier, Juniper Prize for Poetry judge and author of You Good Thing

"Elizabeth Metzger's intelligence and originality are spiritual, earthy, brave. Especially in poems addressing a very ill young friend, Metzger expresses a wild courage that seems instinctive. Her poems are braided with a love for this world that brings to mind Dickinson."—Jean Valentine, author of Shirt in Heaven

"There is often ravishing verbal abandon in these poems: 'the halo of what's un-begun about him.' They join this to a formidable, discriminating narrative intelligence: 'If he's my first to go I will thank nobody for everything.' Epigrams pierce, new-minted: 'What light is to the eyeless / we are to the lonesome.' What unifies these poems? They are carefully composed messages stuffed in a bottle thrown from a plague ship."—Frank Bidart, author of Metaphysical Dog

"I've rarely come across a first book as unconditional, as exquisite, as captivating as this one is."—Lucie Brock-Briodo, author of Stay, Illusion

"These poems are unforgettable in their elegant reach past dissolution, their intimation that there is a better heaven to be made than a deity's, that there is a dream and the dream is this exquisite yet hard-faceted grieving initiatory poetry, first-responding against death."—Carol Muske-Dukes, Huffington Post
University of Massachusetts Press
Juniper Prize for Poetry

9781625342638 : the-spirit-papers-metzger
Paperback / softback
92 Pages
$19.95 USD

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