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Love in the Time of Dinosaurs — buy book

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    Love in the Time of Dinosaurs
    by Alexandria Constantinova Szeman

    Love in the Time of Dinosaurs – Read More

    • Language: english
    • Format: paperback, 124 pages
    • ISBN: 9780977663484 (0977663485)
    • Publisher: RockWay Press
    • Author: Alexandria Constantinova Szeman
    • Awards: Elliston Poetry Prize (1983), Chester H. Jones Poetry Foundation Nominee (1983), Writers’ Digest Poetry Contest Nominee (1980)
    • Release date: July 1, 2013

    About The Book

    Love in the Time of Dinosaurs includes all Szeman’s non-Holocaust poetry from 1983-2010. Many of the poems begin with a narrator’s or character’s questioning his expectations of life versus the reality s/he encounters. In the section Portrait of the Poet as a Woman, the poems, firmly grounded in everyday objects and people, examine marriage, children, and family relationships; eventually expanding the narrator’s or character’s view to include the universal human condition, especially that of women. In “Portrait of the Poet as a Woman” and “A Cappella,” a new wife feels saddled with and rejected by the young children from her husband’s previous marriage(s), despite the fact that she actually loves them and desperately wants their love in return. In “When Bitterness is all We Have,” the long-married narrators rejoice that they have what they consider a more realistic view of marriage than do their children or friends, virtually reveling in how the “bitterness” about life’s and marriage’s expectations has made them more honest, with each other, at least. Or so they claim. The narrators of all the family dramatic monologues speak poignantly of our desire for acceptance and love, of the fear of betrayal, of loneliness and isolation even when within a relationship, as well as of treasured moments of love, happiness, and desire.

    Imaginative depictions of mythological, literary, and biblical characters’ lives frequently appear. In “Cain’s Lament,” the narrator, Cain, long in exile “in a land that is a good land but far from home” after having murdered his brother Abel, begins his lament against God in bewildered grief but ends in self-confident, righteous defiance, revealing the depth of the character only briefly presented in Genesis. “Ahab’s Wife,” published almost thirty years before the best-selling novel of the same name, depicts the confusion, longing, and love of a young wife married to an older man whose obsession with hunting the great white whale that maimed his body is so powerful that it continually takes him away from her and their infant son. The award-winning “Penelope to Ulysses, on their First Night Together after Twenty Years” is a plaintive exploration of how the long-abandoned Penelope, having fought off numerous suitors and preserved her chastity during the two-decades-long absence of her husband, might have actually felt about Ulysses’ return, had The Odyssey been written from a woman’s perspective rather than from a man’s.

    Some characters who were mentioned in short stories in Szeman’s award-winning volume Naked, with Glasses appear in poems like “Eddie Madison and the Theory of Evolution,” where Eddie simply doesn’t understand why his wife, who’s returned to school as an adult, keeps comparing him to an ape, and not one from PLANET OF THE APES either. Eddie’s best friend Auggie longs to get closer to God by looking for angels and demons in “Auggie Vernon and the Eclipse,” no matter what the personal consequences might be. In the collection’s title poem “Love in the Time of Dinosaurs,” the disillusionment, anger, and pathos of Eddie Madison’s life as his marriage deteriorates is likened to the changes of the earth and its climate through long geological transformation, leading to an unexpected, startling conclusion.

    Szeman’s voice is simple and melodic, engaging and lyrical. Her themes are universal, encompassing the perspectives of men and women, adults and children, equally honestly. Though the line-breaks are often syllabic, and the stanzas formal, the language flows musically over the artificially imposed line-breaks. The poems’ stories and characters have generated a multitude of fans who claim that, “for the first time, [they] understand contemporary poetry.”

    All of the poems in the collection have been previously published in literary and university journals, and many of the poems in this collection have been awarded prizes, including the University of Cincinnati’s Elliston Prize (anonymous competition; 1983, 1984, 1985), and The Isabel & Mary Neff Fellowship for Creative Writing (1984-85). Several poems were part of her dissertation, Survivor: One Who Survives (University of Cincinnati, 1986). Along with her Holocaust poetry collection, Where Lightning Strikes, this collection, Love in the Time of Dinosaurs, was unanimously accepted for publication by all outside readers of UKA Press in 2004.

    As powerfully written, darkly humorous, surprising, and accessible as her prose works, these poems let you glimpse into the hearts, lives, and minds of ordinary people — whether they be mythological, biblical, literary, or contemporary — as they struggle to make sense of relationships, family, marriage, divorce, children, spirituality, faith, and the existence of God. As they struggle to comprehend the very things each of us experiences every day.

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