Personification, poetry by Margaret Ronda

Winner of the 2009 Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize, selected by Carl Phillips

$14.00 Paper, 978-0-9818591-5-6
2010 • 80 pp. 5 x 7"

About the Editor

Personification undertakes dreamlike journeys through crumbling architecture and airless interiors, discovering anachronistic and apocalyptic emblems among the commonplace particulars of modern day life. Breaking open in order to reinhabit the language of Puritan allegory and captivity narrative, these poems meditate on the possibility of personhood generated by the constraints of luminous unknowing, a form of captivity in which one is both bound and held rapt. They proceed by way of detour, boredom’s indirection, and astonished pauses, endlessly seeking “the perfect thought / we slept frozen inside / yet could not see.” 

“The poems of Personification fascinate—as in, bind fast—the reader with their invitation to join “a pilgrim's journey chastened by ruin.” They speak to and enact that pilgrimage—one in which strangers are followed into spaces of risk only half-disclosed, just “something faintly/breathing, underneath,” and vistas of likely error both beckon and bewilder in their seeming proof that danger, if it has its costs, can all the same be gorgeous. Here is a strange and arresting vision, indeed.”
—Carl Phillips

“Margaret Ronda’s poetry offers striking resistance to the lyric’s temptations for narcissistic fluency by laminating almost impersonal perceptions that continually charge the order of the observable with eloquent mystery. The rich variety of her formal choices become sounding textures for tightly wrought series of images that hover between landscape and psyche-scape. Many of her figures have the intensity of the best modernist poetry, but this is an ascetic modernism soaked in Celan and the preoccupations of a very different and darker psychology.”
—Charles Altieri

Margaret Ronda received an MFA from Indiana University and a Ph.D. in English from the University of California-Berkeley. She is currently the Holloway Postdoctoral Fellow in Poetry at Berkeley. Her poems have appeared in journals such as Gulf Coast, AGNI, Fourteen Hills, POOL, Prairie Schooner, and Aufgabe. She divides her time between California and Oregon.

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