Pub Date: April 7, 2011
ISBN (Trade paper): 978-1-935210-23-8
Read an excerpt
White Pine Press:
The "us" of Frost's title evokes both the intimacy of lovers and the anonymity of strangers, the negotiations of domestic life and the chance encounters that shape our daily, public lives. Throughout the narratives in All of Us, miscommunication threatens havoc, as time and again, these poems present misfires of communication, gaps in memory, and the simple limitations of language that cause frustration and isolation. The title poem explores a cityscape where community is vertically compressed, and strangers—who are also neighbors—appear eye-to-eye at the peep holes of their locked doors. What is the nature of what Ezra Pound called "commerce" between us? Frost explores this question with passion, humor and pathos.
About the Author
Elisabeth Frost is the author of a critical study, The Feminist Avant-Garde in American Poetry (University of Iowa Press, 2003), and a chapbook, Rumor (Mermaid Tenement Press, 2009). With Cynthia Hogue, she co-edited Innovative Women Poets: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry and Interviews (University of Iowa Press, 2006). In 2009-2010, she held a Fulbright Fellowship as a visiting professor at the University of Wrocław, Poland, and she has also held grants from the Rockefeller Foundation-Bellagio Center and the MacDowell Colony for the Arts, among others. Her collaborations with the visual artist Dianne Kornberg have been shown at a number of venues across the country, and her poems have appeared in such journals as Barrow Street, Boulevard, The Denver Quarterly, The Journal, The New England Review, Poetry, and The Yale Review. Frost is an associate professor of English and Women's Studies at Fordham University, where she teaches contemporary poetry and creative writing, as well as edits the Poets Out Loud book series from Fordham University Press.
Visit the author's website.
"The persistence of bad dreams, the meaning of illness, the acquaintances and the distractions of apartment life ("the stairs in the walk-up ringing"), erotic attachment and filial attention energize the elegant poems, mostly in prose paragraphs, of this debut. Frost already has some reputation as a critic of difficult poetry, but those who expect provocative, frame-breaking poems will not get them. Mostly, Frost's work is more straightforward. Her people view the ordinary life course—birth, growth, health; parenthood, illness, deat—with a tenacious combination of fear and devotion. A grandmother holds her first grandchild "as if she had always known how," and a "tall man in his sixties" recovers almost completely from amnesia: "He remembered everything except how he had gotten to where he was after boarding the train. It hardly mattered, now his life was back." One couple tries to decide whether to have children, whether to devote their lives "to the well-being of another, unformed and vaguely like oneself." Another couple watches a medical show together and then decide "They ought to watch less TV. It seems too much to hope for, health, now that they've seen it up close.""
"Elisabeth Frost's poems explore romantic love, family, and the outer social realm with passion and uncanny perception. The question that sparks Frost's creation is deeply philosophical and epistemological: how do we know each other? She asks how we read and more particularly how we read each other. . . . She helps us see how All of Us stand in relation to the concrete and spiritual universe."
"Frost's debut collection, All Of Us, uses the seemingly narrative prose poem to turn the unconscious conscious. What is unseen but seen and what is unspoken but spoken
becomes apparent in these poems. . . . Frost, through the deep intelligence of these poems, has composed transparent channels into our own lives—a stunning achievement."
"In the white space out beyond Elisabeth Frost's cropped tales, subtle situations, plausible and bizarre fantasias, you may sense the ghosts of Kafka and Borges strolling. But these delicious, low-key, disturbing and always surprising prose poems, with their train of lyric elegance, are a world unto themselves. All of Us is a compulsively readable book."
"Reading Elisabeth Frostís extraordinary debut collection, All of Us, we enter a postmodern scene edged with irony, precise and elegiac. . . . Frost refuses the artifice (and comforts) of closure, observing that 'All talk is slippery.' The ground of these brilliant poems slips from caustic wit to still-palpable mourning, and All of Us opens to a tender and finally capacious vision."