No Heav­en (Pitt Poet­ry Series)

Ali­cia Ostriker
  • From the Publisher
March 31, 2016

Ali­cia Suskin Ostrik­er’s voice has long been acknowl­edged as a major force in Amer­i­can poet­ry. In No Heav­en, her eleventh col­lec­tion, she takes a hint from John Lennon’s Imag­ine” to wres­tle with the world as it is: no hell below us, / above us only sky.”

It is a world of cities, includ­ing New York, Lon­don, Jerusalem, and Berlin, where the poet can cel­e­brate pick­up bas­ket­ball, peace march­es, and the ener­gy of graf­fi­ti. It is also a world of fam­i­lies, gen­er­a­tions com­ing and going, of love, love affairs, and friend­ship. Then it is a world full of art and music, of Rem­brandt and Bon­nard, Mozart and Brahms. Final­ly, it is a world haunt­ed by vio­lence and war. <I>No Heaven</I> ris­es to a cli­max with ele­gies for Yitzhak Rabin, assas­si­nat­ed by an Israeli zealot, and for the poet­’s moth­er, whose death is expe­ri­enced in the con­text of a post‑9/​11 impulse to destroy that seems to seduce whole nations.

Yet Ostrik­er’s ulti­mate stance is to Try to praise the muti­lat­ed world,” as the poet Adam Zaga­jew­s­ki has coun­seled. At times lyric, at times satir­ic, Ostrik­er stead­fast­ly pur­suesin No Heav­en her poet­ics of ardor, a pas­sion for the here and now that has chas­tened and con­soled her many devot­ed readers.

Discussion Questions