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The broken string /
Grace Schulman.
imprint
Boston : Houghton Mifflin Co., 2007.
description
xi, 84 p.
ISBN
0618443703, 9780618443703
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Boston : Houghton Mifflin Co., 2007.
isbn
0618443703
9780618443703
catalogue key
6158896
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. 83-84).
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Excerpt from Book
The Broken String 1 When Itzhak Perlman raised his violin and felt the string snap, he sank and looked down at legs unfit to stand and cross the stage for a replacement. He bowed to the maestro, played radiant chords, and finished the concerto with the strings he had. Rage forced low notes as this surf crashes on rock, turns, and lifts. Later, he smiled and said it's what you do: not just play the score, but make new music with what you have, then with what you have left. 2 What you have left: Bill Evans at the keyboard, Porgy. The sound rose, but one note, unworthy, stalled in his head above the weightless chords, above the bass, the trumpet's holler: Porgy. A sudden clenched fist rose, pounded the keys, fell limp: a heroin shot had hit a nerve. I Loves You, Porgy. Sundays at the Vanguard he soloed, improvised - his test that starved nameless fear. Hands pitted against each other, like the sea's crosscurrents, played away anger. 3 My father bowed before the Knabe piano, scanned notes, touched fingers lightly, and began, by some black art, I thought, his hearing gone for years. And always, Mozart, Liszt, Beethoven. One day I gasped, for there were runs he never heard, played as a broken kite string launches a lifelike eagle that might soar on what the flier holds, what he has left. Not even winds that howl along these shores and raise the surf can ever ground that flight. Late Snow First day of spring and winter can't let go. I can't let go, through dread, of silver maybes: of black that glows, as a cowbird's sheen, of gray dawns when, mud-colored, slow, the river to the west gurgles hosannas. Now near the end of the middle of my life, all I want is more wakings like this one, to watch day break, hear the trash truck growl, glance at my love's body, shadowy under bed linen, shaping a luminous question. I'll have a pale sun strike the air conditioner, turn its ice particles into asterisks, and wake a bewitched maple that will bloom despite the park's tossed soda cans, dope fumes, dog piss, rat poison, banal conversation - green as on the first day of Creation. Northern Mockingbird Day comes up like dirt islands at low tide, revealing what I cannot lose: gulls circling, a skiff upended, caulked for a new launching, a tern flying in place before a dive, lobster traps hidden in phragmites to catch - what, Moses? Long days promise miracles. But there, on the juniper's topmost bough, a bird does its high-wire act, twisting as though for ballast, singing two-note phrases: the years, the years. Rank bird, how it persists. Showoff. Not singing. Mimicking, cleverly mocking my dream to hold this day forever. The northern mockingbird, of the same species Walt Whitman heard on this same shore, and penciled in his diary. Not the same bird, of course, but with a heritage, a long line, if not long life. Its message is harsh. I won't see it forever, nor the juniper sprung up inside the center of a rosebush grown, somehow undaunted, on dry sand, unless my song can recycle this day and pass it on like flotsam, in a sea that inlays glass, wears white stones smooth, and tosses them, shining, on this shore. Come, love, let us run into the waves past the rosebush on fire, dodging clamshells, though an echoing bird calls, years, the years, and a worn fence unrolls like thumbed pages. Copyright 2007 by Grace Schulman. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company
First Chapter
The Broken String 1 When Itzhak Perlman raised his violin and felt the string snap, he sank and looked down at legs unfit to stand and cross the stage for a replacement. He bowed to the maestro, played radiant chords, and finished the concerto

with the strings he had. Rage forced low notes as this surf crashes on rock, turns, and lifts.
Later, he smiled and said it’s what you do: not just play the score, but make new music with what you have, then with what you have left.

2 What you have left: Bill Evans at the keyboard, Porgy. The sound rose, but one note, unworthy, stalled in his head above the weightless chords, above the bass, the trumpet’s holler: Porgy.
A sudden clenched fist rose, pounded the keys,

fell limp: a heroin shot had hit a nerve.
I Loves You, Porgy. Sundays at the Vanguard he soloed, improvised — his test that starved nameless fear. Hands pitted against each other, like the sea’s crosscurrents, played away anger.

3 My father bowed before the Knabe piano, scanned notes, touched fingers lightly, and began, by some black art, I thought, his hearing gone for years. And always, Mozart, Liszt, Beethoven.
One day I gasped, for there were runs

he never heard, played as a broken kite string launches a lifelike eagle that might soar on what the flier holds, what he has left.
Not even winds that howl along these shores and raise the surf can ever ground that flight.

Late Snow

First day of spring and winter can’t let go.
I can’t let go, through dread, of silver maybes: of black that glows, as a cowbird’s sheen, of gray dawns when, mud-colored, slow,

the river to the west gurgles hosannas.
Now near the end of the middle of my life, all I want is more wakings like this one, to watch day break, hear the trash truck growl,

glance at my love’s body, shadowy under bed linen, shaping a luminous question.
I’ll have a pale sun strike the air conditioner, turn its ice particles into asterisks,

and wake a bewitched maple that will bloom despite the park’s tossed soda cans, dope fumes, dog piss, rat poison, banal conversation — green as on the first day of Creation.

Northern Mockingbird

Day comes up like dirt islands at low tide, revealing what I cannot lose: gulls circling, a skiff upended, caulked for a new launching, a tern flying in place before a dive,

lobster traps hidden in phragmites to catch — what, Moses? Long days promise miracles.
But there, on the juniper’s topmost bough, a bird does its high-wire act, twisting

as though for ballast, singing two-note phrases: the years, the years. Rank bird, how it persists.
Showoff. Not singing. Mimicking, cleverly mocking my dream to hold this day forever.

The northern mockingbird, of the same species Walt Whitman heard on this same shore, and penciled in his diary. Not the same bird, of course, but with a heritage, a long line,

if not long life. Its message is harsh.
I won’t see it forever, nor the juniper sprung up inside the center of a rosebush grown, somehow undaunted, on dry sand,

unless my song can recycle this day and pass it on like flotsam, in a sea that inlays glass, wears white stones smooth, and tosses them, shining, on this shore.

Come, love, let us run into the waves past the rosebush on fire, dodging clamshells, though an echoing bird calls, years, the years, and a worn fence unrolls like thumbed pages.

Copyright © 2007 by Grace Schulman. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2007-03-19:
Schulman's sixth outing goes all-out in attempting to represent joy: the kind that comes from works of art, in classical music, in jazz or on canvas, and the kind that comes from attention to everyday details. In the opening title poem, in which the violinist Itzhak Perlman advises (in Schulman's paraphrase): "make music with all you have, and find/ a newer music with what you have left." Other artists, other moments, provoke less optimistic thoughts: Masaccio's Adam and Eve, like Schulman with her former friend or lover, expresses "the long vibrato/ of sacred rage"; the painter Chaim Soutine, known for depicting carcasses, finds "light/ and the heart of dread." Schulman (Days of Wonder) sounds most convincing when her palette grows darker: "Death" belies its stark title by presenting, in dense five-line stanzas, many cultures' ceremonies of mourning, from the Jewish "Kaddish that sanctifies and praises being" to a New Orleans brass-band funeral. Here, even more than in prior collections, Schulman seeks and finds a fluency in traditional forms: trimeter quatrains here and there, but by and large a supple, unforced pentameter, whether rhymed, off-rhymed or blank. Detractors may find the new work offers few surprises; admirers may find much to praise. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Reviews
Review Quotes
"[Grace Schulman] is an elegiac, highly original religious lyricist . . . The Broken String surpasses her distinguished previous work." --Harold Bloom
"├ŁGrace Schulman┬Ę is an elegiac, highly original religious lyricist . . . The Broken String surpasses her distinguished previous work." --Harold Bloom
This item was reviewed in:
Publishers Weekly, March 2007
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Summaries
Long Description
One of the finest poets writing today, Grace Schulman finds a sacred radiance in vivid scenes of the city and the sea. The title of this new collection refers to Itzhak Perlman's will to play a violin concerto despite a missing string, which inspires the poet's celebration of life in its fullness and limitations. For her, song imparts endurance: Thelonious Monk evokes Creation when he snaps his fingers "as though to shape the pain into order"; John Coltrane's improvisations embody her own heart's desire to "get it right on the first take"; the wind plays a harp-shaped oak "that has been salt-bleached, cut, whipped to buckle, and has, instead, stood fast"; and her immigrant forebears remember their past by singing prayers on a ship bound for New York. As in her previous books, Schulman juxtaposes people of different worlds to reveal their unity. "Headstones," which won the American Scholar's Phi Beta Kappa Award for the best poem of 2004, records the isolation of two outsiders, her grandfather Dave and a Montauk sachem, Wyandanch. She percieves the joy shared by Emerson, Beethoven, Turner, and a monk who inked the Bible. At a downtown intersection where churches and a synagogue stand together, the poet recalls that "music soared in quarrels, / moans, blues, calls-and-responses, hymns that rose up / together from stone." Grace Schulman praises the day even in moments of sorrow, and finds order in art and nature that enables her to stand fast in a threatened world.
Main Description
In Grace Schulman's luminous new collection, music inspires meditations on joy, faith, death, and the heart. The title refers to Itzhak Perlman's resolution to perform despite a missing string, and so the book celebrates life in its fullness and in its limitations. Here Thelonius Monk evokes Creation whenhe snaps his fingers "to shape pain into order." At a street intersection where churches and a synagogue stand together, the poet recalls that "music soared in quarrels, / moans, blues, calls-and-answers, hymns that rose up / together from stone." Hailed by Harold Bloom as "a vital and permanent poet," GraceSchulman praises the day even in moments of deepest sorrow.
Main Description
One of the finest poets writing today, Grace Schulman finds order in art and nature that enables her to stand fast in a threatened world. The title refers to Itzhak Perlman's performance of a violin concerto with a snapped string, which inspires a celebration of life despite limitations. For her, song imparts endurance: Thelonious Monk evokes Creation; John Coltrane's improvisations embody her own heart's desire to "get it right on the first take"; the wind plays a harp-shaped oak; and her immigrant ancestors remember their past by singing prayers on a ship bound for New York. In the words of Wallace Shawn, "When I read her, she makes me want to live to be four hundred years old, because she makes me feel that there is so much out there, and it's unbearable to miss any of it."
Main Description
One of the finest poets writing today, Grace Schulman finds order in art and nature that enables her to stand fast in a threatened world. The title refers to Itzhak Perlman's performance of a violin concerto with a snapped string, which inspires a celebration of life despite limitations. For her, song imparts endurance: Thelonious Monk evokes Creation; John Coltrane's improvisations embody her own heart's desire to "get it right on the first take; the wind plays a harp-shaped oak; and her immigrant ancestors remember their past by singing prayers on a ship bound for New York. In the words of Wallace Shawn, "When I read her, she makes me want to live to be four hundred years old, because she makes me feel that there is so much out there, and it's unbearable to miss any of it.
Table of Contents
The Broken Stringp. 3
The Letter Bp. 5
The Fifth of Julyp. 7
Queryp. 8
Headstonesp. 9
Blue in Greenp. 11
The Footbridgep. 12
Kol Nidrei, September 2001p. 13
First Nightsp. 17
Orson's Shadowp. 18
Thelonious Himselfp. 20
Originsp. 21
Collectorsp. 23
Art Tatum at the Gee-Haw Stablesp. 26
Joyp. 27
The Horrorp. 31
Deathp. 33
St. Sulpicep. 35
The Crow Manp. 37
Bordersp. 40
From the New Worldp. 45
Applesp. 47
Rain Downtownp. 49
Speak, Memoryp. 51
The Rowp. 53
Late Snowp. 55
In Place of Beliefp. 56
Readersp. 65
Northern Mockingbirdp. 67
Chosenp. 69
Walk!p. 70
In the Foregroundp. 72
Lesson from the Coinp. 74
Lossp. 75
Cimicifugap. 77
Harp Songp. 79
Wavesp. 81
Notesp. 83
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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