Cover image for Song of the world becoming : new and collected poems, 1981-2001
Song of the world becoming : new and collected poems, 1981-2001
Publication Information:
Minneapolis, Minn. : Milkweed Editions, c2001.
Physical Description:
518 p.
General Note:
Includes indexes.


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book 811.54 ROG 1 1

On Order



This book collects all of Pattiann Rogers's published work, plus 40 new poems. Her subject matter is at once broad -- defining divinity, achieving serenity -- and specific, as she sees with a keen eye "the neon needle of a damsel fly hovering and vanishing".

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Encompassing two decades of poetry and seven previous books of poems, Rogers's latest replaces the new and selected Firekeeper from 1994. Taken one after another, Rogers's poems read like a series of witty but deeply felt naturalist essays, exuding much observational care and descriptive panache: nature's "binding signature contained in the agitation/ of poplars taken by the wind, in the sucker-/ tipped tube feet of the slender purple/ starfish, in the release of midnight's/ cry by root cricket, by poaching owl." For Rogers, our predatory universe testifies to the presence of a God neither benevolent nor condemning the deity just is. Close observation of creation becomes both an act of prayer and an honoring of the world through the poet's own redemptive logos. What is lacking is the negative capability of a Marianne Moore or the more grounded wonder of a James Wright. Rogers simply appropriates nature as divine evidence, lyric proof to sustain her own faith, in a manner similar to Annie Dillard. Some of the poems end up sounding like moral tales for children ("Everybody knows the sun, every/ body in the whole world no matter who"), and the poems that deal overtly with the erotic (most famously "The Hummingbird: A Seduction" and "The Power of Toads") can seem devoid of shadow or experiences rooted in darkness. Rogers would rather celebrate in the light, reveling in the powers of the body and the imagination; like-minded readers will respond. (Mar. 29) Forecast: Rogers has a strong following on the reading circuit and in naturalist circles. Yet the appearance of this collected, a relatively scant seven years after the selected Firekeeper, won't be enough to generate the sort of national reviews it seems designed to provoke. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Booklist Review

For Rogers, poetry is at once a microscope and a telescope. It reveals the subatomic world and the blazing stars above, a bird perched in a tree and the effect a word of praise has on the human brain. From her first collection, The Expectations of Light (1981), through seven subsequent books, Rogers has celebrated the intricate workings of life, from its coalescence and emergence from the seas to the way a milkweed spews its seeds or how a twist of genes carries forward the instinct to seek shelter and the desire to touch. Rogers knows that everything--a breeze, a galloping horse, a surge of love--leaves a trace, alters a pattern, or sends ripples and waves out into the cosmos. In the substantial set of new poems at the prow of this magnificent retrospective collection, Rogers' curiosity is just as active as ever, but her language is even more layered, sensual, and musical, her imagery even more mythic and vital. Rogers possesses the philosophical elegance of Stevens, the body awareness of Sharon Olds, and the keenness of Mary Oliver, but her penetrating vision, avid imagination, and open-winged exaltation are all her own. Donna Seaman

Library Journal Review

Rogers has released her new collection as part of a collected works spanning the last two decades, and readers who have not yet discovered this wise and complex poet should sit up and take notice. Like many of her colleagues Albert Goldbarth, Diane Ackerman, and the late A.R. Ammons come to mind Rogers can't forget that matters of the heart are rooted in hard science: "Think of those old, enduring connections/ found in all flesh? the channeling/ wires and threads, vacuoles, granules,/ plasma and pods, purple veins? those common ligaments,/ filaments, fibers and canals." While her poems have been called "erotic," Rogers' hunger for the physical world she is unsentimental in her attempts to catalog every nook and cranny is inseparable from an unabashed faith: "God is a process, a raveled nexus/ forever tangling into and around the changing form of his own moment." Her poems are apt to generate electricity in the incongruous leap from the knowledge of life's underpinnings to the miracle of existence. One terrific poem, "The Art of Raising Gibbons and Flowers," evokes the simultaneous beauty and horror of our civilized selves in a still life of hothouse flowers and caged primates in which "even pollen spores and feeding butterflies/ are shaken loose by the fetid blast." This fertile work is essential for poetry collections. Ellen Kaufman, Dewey Ballantine LLP Law Lib., New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.