Tag Archives: PulitzerPrize

A Pulitzer Poet – Lisel Mueller

Thanks to Lu and Kelly for creating the Poetry Project and suggesting the theme of reading the Pulitzer Prize winning poets in August.  I have been reading poets who are new to me.   One of my favorites is  Lisel Mueller who won the Pulitzer in 1997 for the collection Alive Together.  I borrowed this book from my library but will be sure to add a copy to my poetry collection.

Mueller’s poetry very clear and direct, based in present time and yet deeply connected to the past.  She uses folk and fairy tales  in her poems, as well as everyday events.   Her poems tell stories, are often personal,  never heavy-handed and are filled with wonderful imagery.  I find her writing striking, deeply moving and quite beautiful.

Here are two poems from Alive Together:

Sometimes, When The Light

Sometimes, when the light strikes at odd angles
and pulls you back into childhood

and you are passing a crumbling mansion
completely hidden behind old willows

or an empty convent guarded by hemlocks
and giant firs  standing hip to hip,

you know again that behind that wall,
under the uncut hair of the willows

something secret is going on,
so marvelous and dangerous

that if you crawled through and saw,
you would die, or be happy forever.

Why We Tell Stories

For Linda Foster

Because we used to have leaves
and on damp days
our muscles feel a tug,
painful now, from when roots
pulled us into the ground

and because our children believe
they can fly, an instinct retained
from when the bones in our arms
were shaped like zithers and broke
neatly under their feathers

and because before we had lungs
we knew how far it was to the bottom
as we floated open-eyed
like painted scarves through the scenery
of dreams, and because we awakened

and learned to speak

We sat by the fire in our caves,
and because we were poor, we made up a tale
about a treasure mountain
that would open only for us

and because we were always defeated,
we invented impossible riddles
only we could solve,
monsters only we could kill,
women who could love no one else
and because we had survived
sisters and brothers, daughters and sons,
we discovered bones that rose
from the dark earth and sang
as white birds in the trees

Because the story of our life
becomes our life

Because each of us tells
the same story
but tells it differently

and none of us tells it
the same way twice

Because grandmothers looking like spiders
want to enchant the children
and grandfathers need to convince us
what happened happened because of them

and though we listen only
haphazardly, with one ear,
we will begin our story
with the word and

Lisel Mueller


Filed under Authors, Poetry, Poetry Project, Pulitzer, Thoughts

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout


Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

Random House, New York, 2008

Based in the town of Crosby, Maine, these thirteen stories are bound together by one strong, cantankerous character, Olive Kitteridge.   Beautifully written, uncluttered and honest Strout writes of the kind husband, the angry son,  neighbors with a son in prison for murder, a young man struggling with suicide.  Always, Olive is somewhere in the mix, loud and obstreperous, unforgettable and the glue that holds it all together.  The whole world is in this little town.  This is a lovely collection of stories filled with sadness and joy, filled with life.

Sometimes, like now, Olive had the sense of just how desperately hard every person in the world was working to get what they needed.  For most it was a sense of safety, in the sea of terror that life increasingly became.  People thought love would do it, and maybe it did. But even if, thinking of the smoking Anne, it took three different kids, with three different fathers, it was never enough, was it?  From page 211

Other reviews:


She Is Too Fond Of Books

Shelf Life

Ready When You Are, C.B.

Regular Rumination


Filed under Review