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To the New World

Valerie Duff

ISBN: 978-1-907056-28-4

Page Count: 76

Publication Date: Sunday, February 28, 2010

Cover Artwork: Canvas-Wrapped Hull, Boatyard Series © 2008 Emily Hiestand

Click to play movie Valerie Duff reads from 'To the New World' at Boston College, September 2010 play

About this Book

This is poetry full of absolute physical celebration - galley stoves, flour, slabs of meat, pollens, a tarnished boat - a gift, really.  By turns these poems are violent and sweet, representing many journeys.  They are surreal, joyous, startling, and fierce.

Cheryl Follon, author of All Your Talk

"I am only here in passing," writes Valerie Duff in "Urban Blue," and this line could stand as a motto for her passage to the "new world" delineated in the sharp-edged, ironic, and canny poems of this collection. This is a book of liminality, of speakers at emotional and spiritual thresholds of all sorts, certain only that there is nothing absolutely lasting. Thus this is also a book of departures and arrivals, of highways and sea-lanes, of taxis, gates, and doorways, and what is sometimes glimpsed in the rearview mirror. Here, in other words, is a vivid portrait of how we move and shift and pass our days, each heading for better or worse to our own new worlds. 

Fred Marchant, author of The Looking House

Author Biography

Valerie Duff is the poetry editor for Salamander Magazine, and she has received St. Botolph and Massachusetts Cultural Council grants for her poetry.  She earned her masters degree in creative writing from Boston University and Trinity College, Dublin. Her poems have appeared in Ploughshares, Harvard Review, PN Review AGNI, Zoland Poetry: an Annual of Poems, Translations and Interviews, and elsewhere; her book reviews have appeared in Salamander, Bostonia, and PN Review.  Her short play, "The Means Which Enable Me to Work," was performed in an Arlington New Plays Festival in 2004.  Valerie is a freelance writer and editor for Bedford/St. Martin's Press.  She lives in Boston with her husband and two children.

Read a sample from this book


Flute and pastoral. Circle the dell, following shadows
    of a big, black bird,
and if I did, I'd go until I reached state lines. What I want
    and don't want, lives
here in the green of Virginia. A cat runs under the
    rusted car out back. Curl up,
Jackal. In a field next door, the cat lady claps her hands.
    She gives her kitty-yodel
and they fly in hundreds towards her lap, rub her apron.
    Pipe the flute, sing the pastoral.

These are our morals and heroes. Even in the dell, I knew
    I'd break the bars, the brisk
fall air, religion, deeply Southern. The redboard church.
    You could almost hear
hymns percolate inside its pores, snaking out, the streets
    filled with recorded bells.
I knew I'd head Northward through my own weather.

Leaves cover the windshield. On rides up-country,
    high-strung New York Thruway
goes from green to full-blown tapestry, bleak and back
    again in torment. Black tattoo
on the gas attendant's arm. The bronze hair, the pores of
    that arm. A child in the doorway
sucks his thumb, dressed in his bare feet. Gardens, dusk
    on Sunday.
I'm nothing more than this. A gate swings open, shut,
    open in the wind, listening
to her brocade prayer of tabbytabbytabby sung out that
    draws me in.

Copyright © Valerie Duff 2010


Interview: Valerie Duff interviewed by Marnie Verger for "The Common" (September 1st, 2014)

Read the interview here>

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