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Eating Fire: Selected Poetry 1965-1995: Selected Poetry, 1965-95 [Paperback]

Margaret Atwood
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

1 Oct 1998
The evolution of Margaret Atwood's poetry illuminates one of our major literary talents. Here, as in her novels, is intensity combined with sardonic detachment, and in these early poems her genius for a level stare at the ordinary is wonderfully apparent. Just as startling is her ability to contrast the everyday with the terrifying: 'Each time I hit a key/ on my electric typewriter/ speaking of peaceful trees/ another village explodes.' Her poetic voice is crystal clear, insistent, unmistakably her own. Through bus trips and postcards, wilderness and trivia, she reflects the passion and energy of a writer intensely engaged with her craft and the world. Two former collections, Poems 1965 - 1975 and Poems 1976 - 1986, are presented together with her latest collection, Morning in the Burned House, in this omnibus that represents the development of a major poet.

Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Virago (1 Oct 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1860495052
  • ISBN-13: 978-1860495052
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 307,274 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Margaret Atwood is the author of more than thirty books of fiction, poetry and critical essays.

In addition to the classic The Handmaid's Tale, her novels include Cat's Eye, shortlisted for the Booker Prize, Alias Grace, which won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy, The Blind Assassin, winner of the 2000 Booker Prize and Oryx and Crake, shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Her most recent novel, The Year of the Flood, was published in 2009. She was awarded the Prince of Asturias Prize for Literature in 2008.

Margaret Atwood lives in Toronto, Canada.

(Photo credit: George Whitside)

Product Description

Amazon Review

In "Against Still Life", a poem from her 1966 collection, The Circle Game, the speaker exclaims: "I'd crack your skull / like a walnut, split it like a pumpkin / to make you talk, or get / a look inside". This urgent desire to excavate experience, to break through surfaces and dish up the truth, governs much of Atwood's work. In times of conflict she refuses to turn away ("I am the cause, I am a stockpile of chemical / toys, my body / is a deadly gadget, / I reach out in love, my hands are guns / my good intentions are completely lethal"). On the subject of mistreatment she won't back off ("the iguana / in the pet shop window on St Catherine Street / crested, royal-eyed, ruling / its kingdom of water-dish and sawdust..."). And with in-your-face fury she approaches "love / like a biologist / pulling on my rubber / gloves & white labcoat," ever-insisting "I'm not the sea, I'm not pure blue, / I don't have to take / anything you throw into me."

But this drive to push, with arrestingly beautiful imagery, the limits of what we see and in turn believe, is only the half of it. What draws us in, what keeps us enthralled, is her intoxicatingly flawless sense of rhythm and cadence. Under Atwood's grip, though "it's all about sex and territory," though "the windchill factor hits / thirty below, and pollution pours / out of our chimneys to keep us warm," there is always just enough room for a bit of optimism, "to / admit the cancer cell is beautiful ... with its mauve center and pink petals," to remind us "the river's been here, violent, right where we're standing / [but] now it's a trickle, and we're up to our knees / in late-spring yellowing weeds." --Martha Silano


Atwood is the quiet Mata Hari, the mysterious, violent figure ... who pits herself against the ordered too-clean world like an arsonist (Michael Ondaatje)

An acute and poetic observer of the eternal, universal rum relations between women and men (THE TIMES)

Detached, ironic... poems that sing off the page and sting (Michele Roberts)

Lean, symbolic, thoroughly Atwoodesque prose honed into elegant columns... (SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY)

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Subtle and difficult poetry 2 July 2004
By "rd99"
I bought this collection having read and enjoyed several of Margaret Atwood's novels, and wanting to find out if her poetry is as enjoyable as her prose. Thirty years of poetic output are sampled in this collection, in which the poems are printed in chronological order of writing. This allows you to follow the development of Atwood's poetic voice, which becomes increasingly experimental as time passes. The poetry bears the unmistakable imprint of Atwood's mind - the style will be instantly recognisable to anyone who has read a couple of her novels. These poems concentrate on similar themes to the novels: gender relations, humanity's relationship with the environment, power structures within sexual relationships, Canadian life, the darker undertones of the natural world. The selected poetry complements Atwood's novels as you can watch her explore similar territory in a different way. These poems are short, intense and highly enjoyable to read, although I found some of the 1970s poetry difficult to get to grips with.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
5.0 out of 5 stars Delicious 4 April 2014
By Heather Fowler - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Really, it's Atwood. The poetry is sharp and cuts in all the right ways. It lingers. Need I say more?
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