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HERE I THROW DOWN MY HEART | Poems by Colleen J. McElroy (New from Pitt Poetry Series)

  Colleen J. McElroy reads at City of Asylum, Pittsburgh

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Available October 2012

HERE I THROW DOWN MY HEART
Colleen J. McElroy

Photo: Ingrid Pape-Sheldon
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Cover design: Alma Thomas | Courtesy of the Hirshhorn Museum

© University of Pittsburgh Press

Here I Throw Down My Heart offers a view of twenty-first century boundaries where home can be as transitory as the weather, and continuously alters our perceptions of our bodies, the planet, and the spaces we inhabit. The poems in Here I Throw Down My Heart prompt readers to see beyond the surface of images, whether that surface is a uniform, a prescribed setting, a familiar geography, or the surface that evokes the most social commentary, skin—the body itself. The modern world moves at a greater speed than the world of a few generations ago, so we look for ways to sort our likes and dislikes, to set our comfort zones. These poems say: “don’t believe everything you see, look again.” The poems look at how borders between countries, or between genders and class have deepened the lines between the haves and have-nots. While everyone is on a collision course for lack of food and water, those dividing lines seem more impenetrable than ever, underscoring the disparity between gender, race, and class.

Praise for Here I Throw Down My Heart

“‘We will cross where the borders are porous.’ In McElroy’s Here I Throw Down My Heart, meaning beats a tattoo in four distinct chambers, adding up, magically, to pure connection. Slavery’s echo in modern times, what it means to be a woman in battle, hunger and greed, and a paradise up for grabs . . . ‘if our purse is fat enough. ’ These are significant poems that address our complex human condition, in language that illuminates with frankness and beauty.”
—Katherine Hastings

“McElroy’s voice remains—even if blues tired—ultimately as smart-mouthed and straightforward as ever. This is a broad cut swath of a book. It lays wide open a lot of our complacencies.”
—Charles Roberson

Here I Throw Down My Heart is amazing. . . . I’m especially drawn to the [women] warrior poems. That series is magnificent in its tearless awfulness with that note of sweet, appalled regret at the end.”
—Valerie Trueblood

“The always smart and effective poetry of Colleen McElroy becomes seductive in Here I Throw Down My Heart. On topics from marriage to the military to ageing, McElroy’s poems are film noir voodoo magic.”
—Diane Wakoski

Praise for McElroy’s earlier work

“Each place lives a thriving and illuminated existence through McElroy’s mastery of language. This mastery is evident not only in the literary aspects of the poems, but also in the music sounding behind the language.”
—Genevieve Lebaron

Sleeping with the Moon is a voyage, a map of images that captures what we humans do to survive with grace. The revelations unfold one after the other, enlarging this needful journey, each poem caught in its profound imagery and poignant singing, until we become suspended in a music that enlightens.”
—Yusef Komunyakaa

About the Author

Colleen J. McElroy is professor emeritus of English and creative writing at the University of Washington. She is the former editor in chief of the literary magazine Seattle Review and has published nine poetry collections, most recently Sleeping with the Moon, for which she received a 2008 PEN/Oakland National Literary Award. Her latest collections of creative nonfiction include A Long Way from St. Louie and Over the Lip of the World: Among the Storytellers of Madagascar, which was a finalist in the 2000 PEN USA Research-based Creative Nonfiction category. She has received the Before Columbus American Book Award, two Fulbright Research Fellowships, two NEA Fellowships (in both fiction and poetry), a DuPont Visiting Scholar Fellowship, and a Rockefeller Fellowship.

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