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MORE (2010)
Barbara Crooker
C&R Press
release date: April 1, 2010
69 pages 47 poems
ISBN: 978-1-936196-00-5
USD $14.95 + shipping
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Barbara Crooker is the author of Radiance, Line Dance, and ten chapbooks. Her poems appear in The Green Mountains Review, The Christian Science Monitor, The Tampa Review, and other magazines, and she has held fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and writing residencies at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Her work is included in The Bedford Introduction to Literature and The Bedford Introduction to Poetry.


by Barbara Crooker

The pebbly map of its thin skin,
the pith, the thick walls,
the tough little seeds.
It needs to be married
to sugar, white beach sands.

My mother and I are pretending
we're at the shore, sitting
on the patio of her nursing home.
A yellow raft sails off
on a sea of cold iced tea--

The citrus light of summer
washes over the moonbeam
coreopsis, the lemon lilies,
sundrops, button headed daisies--
My mother is saying goodbye

in many little ways.
She has held her first great-
grandson; his skin's tender as a peach,
while her hands, gnarled by arthritis,
are trees left unpruned in an orchard gone wild.

O holy church of the lemon, chapel of wedges,
acidic juice, the slick shine-- How the oil
clings to your skin, lingers on your fingers,
blesses the flesh of fish swimming in the plate,
kisses the filling of pie on the shelf,

remembers life is bitter,
remembers life is sweet.

To say it flat out: From her hiding place in Fogelsville, Pennsylvania, Barbara Crooker has been writing—one by one—some of the finest poems in America. More contains many of these poems.
It is a book of longing and praise (“Anchor me to this world, God of spindrift, / God of spume and salt spray, God of sand”), of whimsy and humor (“What you want comes in five flavors, / and all of them are chocolate: / milk, mocha, alpine white, semi-, bittersweet”), of happiness (“Every dog within fifty miles is off-leash, running for the sheer dopey joy of it”). Above all, these are poems of response, as in Crooker’s lovely responses to paintings by such as Monet and Hopper and, in the surpassing, “The Mother Suite,” her terribly moving responses to a mother’s decline. With neither sentiment nor nostalgia—those two killers of celebratory poems—Barbara Crooker’s works are a true guide to what Zen masters call “mindfulness.” These auditory and visual craftworks should salt and pepper and grace our anthologies for centuries to come.
—Dick Allen, author of Present Vanishing and Ode to the Cold War: Poems New and Selected

Rarely has a book of poems been as aptly titled as Barbara Crooker's More. Propelled by her hunger for beauty and language, she flies in low over human experience, noticing every gesture, every flavor, every nuance of color and light. Whether she is pondering a spill of salt or stepping into a painting by Hopper, Crooker never for one second lets us forget what it is to be alive and how many ways we have been given to express our gratitude for this simple fact. “How did all this loveliness/ spring from the dark?” she asks in one poem. I don't know the answer, but by the time I finished reading this book, I could only agree with its final sentence: “I want all this to last.”

—Sue Ellen Thompson, author of The Golden Hour and editor of The Autumn House Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry


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