Marguerite Guzman Bouvard

Miriam Sagan is a prolific writer, the author of over a dozen books including novels, books for children and nonfiction as well as several books of poetry. For a woman in mid-career, she has the wisdom and the experience of a much older person. In her latest book, Archeology of Desire, Red Hen Press (Los Angeles, 2001), the poems resonate with authenticity, spirituality and the truths of living with loss.

Throughout the book she explores meaning in different ways. In the poem After You, written for her deceased husband, she asks, Who is "you?"/The other, the beloved/ and further on in the poem "You some part of myself I'm speaking to,/ or you, the reader, or you, the passage of time/that wilts the proverbial rose. In another poem, Miriam Sagan gives us yet another perspective I've always distrusted the letter Y/ Sometimes a vowel, sometimes not/ But you, in the end, must come to me/. This dialogue of questions and revelations makes the book a seamless whole. It is frequently woven with a juxtaposition of the grandiose and the miniature as in her pairing of an ant ,the immanence/Of sky,. the New Mexican Sangre de Christo mountains on the one hand followed by a poem about gladiolas.

In poem after poem, she reveals the many dimensions of a single experience. In Milky Way, she leaps from a bottle of rubbing alcohol her husband left behind, to his garden lying fallow, to the Milky Way/ separated the mortal husband/from his star wife/, and back again to the The wife and child/Who remain/ Left with the bookcase you made/of driftwood/ Saving your paperweight--/A red brick smoothed by waves/.

Her searching for what lies beyond our ordinary vision reaches cosmic proportion in Time Dilation Experiments where she recalls suddenly feeling the meaning of the giant Buddhas in a museum and hearing the songs of the Algonquins Sink beneath the asphalt of Manhatten. In Digging for Troy, Miriam Sagan is delving into the whole of human history, events great and small, unearthing everyday objects that yield their own stories as well as many questions and premonitions.

Her wisdom and understanding appear like jewels nested in the midst of her poems. In Monoprint, she comments Things cover each other up: faith, doubt/Occultation of the present over the past. In fact so many of the poems in this book explore the enigmas of our brief passage on this earth.

Many of the poems reflecting her circumstances as a young widow with a new husband, are meditations on death and what it means in our daily life. In the first poem in the book, Open The Door, she continues standing on the threshold nights, knowing her husband will never return but nevertheless questioning what has happened and what it has done to her.

These meditations occur within an elegantly portrayed world of wonder and contentment for this is a book that vibrates with joy. In Rothko she explores the luminosity of his colors and shapes, listing what she refers to as The hum of each thing's name:……High heel, sea stone, locket, amethyst--/That keeps this world/ Alive. Having experienced such a crushing loss at a young age, the poet has discovered that grief has given her a richer and deeper insight into the world: her poems are also exultation, a rediscovering of the beauty of the seemingly ordinary.

Archeology of Desire is a book about the human condition with its discoveries and joys as well as its crushed hopes, and its sorrows. It is the work of a mature poet whose vision brings us close to the burning realities of life in a way that instructs rather than frightens, a book one can turn to again and again for enlightenment and unvarnished truth as well as for sheer enjoyment.

Miriam Sagan was born in Manhattan and raised in New Jersey. She holds a BA from Harvard and MA in Creative Writing from Boston University. She is an acclaimed writing teacher and author of more than a dozen books of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. She has held residency grants at Yaddo and MacDowell and is the recipient of a grant from the Barbara Deming Foundation and a Border Regional Library Association Award. Her work has appeared nationally in over 200 magazines. She has taught writing at Santa Fe Community College, Taos Institute of the Arts, Aspen Writers Conference, and in workshops across the United States. She now lives in New Mexico with her husband Richard Feldman and her daughter.


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