Books

“The language Shipley uses is extraordinary. At times, a line may leap off the page and become a banner the minds-eye sees and can’t quite move past. Often, her description is painfully stark, ridged, as if it were happening in the present. The reader can’t help but take it personally, the sudden desire to remove yourself from your chair of comfort and demand justice.” –Rattle

“Poet of both heart and conscience, Shipley spans centuries as well as continents. Again and again, Shipley becomes the voice of innocents condemned to death and of their guilty condemners who go free in poems that are complex, dense, primarily narrative, but often with breathtakingly lyrical moments.” –Texas Review

“The voices in the collection tie above Shipley herself as if she were channeling the dead: we recognize her artistry in this book, but it feels like we are having a conversation with lost souls.” –The Briar Cliff Review

“There are no small deaths for the poet. First person narratives pre-empt death’s shuttering silence by preserving her story and those of loved ones. Poems enter on her parents rooted in terminal illnesses: the father’s prostate cancer, the mother’s Alzheimer’s, the daughter’s need to wrestle past and present.” — Caduceus: The Poet’s At Yale University’s Art Place

“In our society, distinctive locales are being leveled. Drive across the country on an interstate, the distinction in landscape disappears into Burger Kings, Domino’s and Walmarts. Vivian Shipley’s poetry preserves a uniqueness of place.” —The New York Times

“Vivian Shipley explores regions of the quotidian terror: erasure, the double-death of ceasing to exist and ceasing to be remembered. Shipley reminds us implicitly that poetry, unlike terror, survives, giving voice to the eternal.”  —War, Literature & the Arts

“To take on voices or compose dramatic monologues is nothing new, of course, but what is remarkable is Shipley’s facility at imbuing voices with the same conversational, even casual tone as in her autobiographical work. The readers feel as though we have sat down together with a cup of coffee or maybe a stiff drink, and a life is being shared.” —Prairie Schooner

“The pain and the courage, the knowledge and the growth which come from family relationships informs the language of Vivian Shipley s poetry. Shipley is not a poet of easy answers or facile diction, earning each of her insights through experience. She takes no short cuts, yet her poems cut a line straight into the heart.” –Joseph Bruchac

“Whether she is communing with Sylvia Plath or James Merrill at his Connecticut grave, Vivian Shipley gives us a rich sense of her attachment to landscape and memory, be it of her native Kentucky or New England home on the shore. Her narrative skill, exuberant language and cadenced music, the insistent energy and keen eye for particulars she brings to her poems, signal a splendid and generous spirit.” –Colette Inez

“Vivian Shipley s subjects, their places and their circumstances are rendered in starkly human terms. These are people from the quieter back page of a newspaper, not the blaring front page. In this way, Shipley reclaims their lives by finding value in them, by finding and making them a part of the range of humanness that includes both celebration and dissent. As a writer, Vivian Shipley is invariably willing to take me with her, and I am happy to have the chance to go.” –Alberto Rios

“Vivian Shipley s poetry is distinguished by how much of life and life s joyous energy it manages to convey. Alternately exhilarating and tender, her voice is expansive, inclusive and arresting. Ranging from Appalachian Kentucky to Soviet Russia, she does not merely capture the memorable particulars of the landscape, but always finds a genuine human story to tell.” –Dana Goia

“The pantheon you meet in these vivid narrative poems covers an astonishing range from Charlotte Mew to the poet s Hardin County farmer-father to Vasyl Stus, a prisoner in Perm 36. These intelligent densely packed poems should be read slowly, the way you savor a good sherry.” –Maxine Kumin

“Vivian Shipley is, among her many distinctions, one of America s truly eminent poets of family. Unlike so many of her rootless contemporaries, she comes from identifiable (and complex and ultimately lovable) people, as they say in the South…which, like every landscape she touches, is itself complex and splendidly identifiable. In a word, to read this splendid writer s poems is to enter a veritable world, whose sadnesses are matched only by the abiding hope and compassion of its creator.” –Sydney Lea

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