Strange with Age (Paperback)
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Strange with Age, by prize-winning poet Sharon Cumberland, explores the gains and losses of the ageing process through the prism of her 95-year-old father, as well as other, wide-ranging subjects concerned with the vagaries and challenges of living. Built around the sonnet cycle "My Father Has Grown Strange with Age," the poems reflect the poet's travels to Rome, Glasgow, Seattle, and San Francisco, and an array of nursing homes, fantasies, and dreams. Cumberland's poems are known for the clarity and accessibility of her voice. They can be understood and appreciated by adolescent and college readers, while mature readers will find a treasure trove of meaning in the clever use of imagery and metaphor. Cumberland is also known for her spirituality in the tradition of Mary Oliver, Wendell Berry, and Denise Levertov. Her poems explore the mysteries of faith, both in contemporary and biblical settings, without being off-putting to secular readers. Her work is a magic mirror in which the reader can see the extraordinary through the mundanity of daily life. Sandra Cisneros calls Cumberland's poetry "truer than x-ray or photo." Kathleen Flenniken says the Strange with Age offers "truth, consolation, and a lovely sense of humor."
About the Author
Sharon Cumberland was born in Schenectady, New York. Her peregrinations through universities, jobs, psychotherapy, and an Episcopalian religious order led her to poetry. She has traveled in the United States and abroad, and lived for a time in Rome, Italy where she developed a love of art, architecture, and opera. In New York City she had careers in arts management and education. Currently she is an Associate Professor of English and Director of the Creative Writing Program at Seattle University.
“Cumberland’s poems are clear as a river and cold to the teeth—the poems are so personal it almost seems indecent to show them. How truer a picture they are than X-ray or photo.” — Sandra Cisneros, author of A House of My Own: Stories From My Life
“Strange with Age, for all its formal and lyrical feats—and there are many, including a deft and moving crown of sonnets for an aging father—is more than the sum of its fine parts. It is proof that wisdom—the real, hard-earned kind, built of experience, intelligence, faith, and yes, age—does not take the place of desire, but stands arm-in-arm with it offering truth, consolation, and a lovely sense of humor.” — Kathleen Flenniken, author of Plume
“‘My Father has grown strange with age’ is a line early in this book that carries the title and a reminder that so shall we all. In these poems, Sharon Cumberland explores the grief, the difficulties of faith and doubt, the inescapable movement of time, and many aspects of the everyday and the extraordinary. These poems achieve the artfulness of artlessness (especially in the sonnets). Cumberland writes, ‘Our arms are the cradle to cradle our child of light,’ and a reader leaves this book feeling a little more familiar with the strangeness of age, as well as reinvigorated about what narrative poetry can do in the hands of a talented artist.” — Tod Marshall, author of Bugle
“Sharon Cumberland gives us visionary poems in the broadest and deepest sense of the word: their sensory impact is immediate and unforgettable: after traveling with her poems for a while, we smell ‘apple tobacco flavoring the air,’ we see trees from a fresh perspective: ‘They grow every day at a pace we can’t notice. Trees do not act: they are acted upon.’ Famous people are made accessible here: the poets’ parents knew Picasso, her brother met Eisenhower, and Jesus himself instructs us like a mysterious rabbi. By the time I finished reading Strange with Age, I, too, was ready to ‘drop my jug, snatch up my life, run to town filled with good news.” — Lyn Coffin, translator of Shota Rustaveli’s The Knight in the Panther Skin