The poems in Border Songs offer more than a conversation between poets: they’re conversant, knowledgeable, informed by eros, loss, delight, curiosity, and intimate wisdom. This collection stays long after you’ve stopped reading to meditate alone about body and soul.
Love’s not easy. Belonging is even harder. And true poetry’s more difficult, I swear, than love and belonging combined. The speakers in these poems have cultivated a rich patience, have, separately, established sonorous, intelligent lives full of tenderness and nuance and passed them along to us in an embrace. One tells us, “…the trees / turned into notebooks so the story could change.” The other: “I’m just getting to love / this world for what it is, a flawed place / with its subway platforms overlooking the third rail . . . .” And change and love is what this book is about, risk and quiet transformation, a deeper change than drama. That these voices, against the odds, have found one another is a sort of miracle, that they are harmonious and comforting speaks volumes of our larger humanity and of our singular loves. True poems. Reading this book is “like hearing music in a cathedral.”
Ona Gritz’s poems prove the unlikely – that it’s possible to dazzle with simplicity, an eloquent, apparently effortless simplicity that poem after poem registers emotional truths. Many poems in Geode explore what it means to live gracefully with a disability. I don’t know if Gritz has perfect pitch, but she has its poetic equivalent; she continually hits the right note, and moves us to a different sense of regard by her precisions and her exquisite sensibility. I love this book.
Ona Gritz writes her life in a sequence of beautifully observed and crafted moments, with superb control, not a line out of line. Disabled yet unsparing of herself, she claims her kin. But her emotional depth, her honesty, and the clarity of her voice will reach every reader–she’s akin to us all. This is a fine collection
When a geode is cracked open, it has rugged edges and sparkles. Life is like this, but these poems are perfectly shaped. They are dense and clear as glass, or like mirrors. Although not “jagged,” they take risks —with intimacy, and risks with forms, veering in and out of concise lines and conversational moments. They break open to allow breath and double meanings; they imply rough-edged “stories,” but they feel smooth. They reflect the poet’s sensuous experience of being with her blind lover, of the joy in being heard, and in listening. These poems hold their pieces of “geode” in honor, and raise all parts of daily living to the light.
Ona Gritz has had cerebral palsy all her life, but until she gave birth to her son, she didn’t really understand what it meant to be disabled. Her cerebral palsy affects her coordination and balance but not enough to have ever truly hindered her. “For the most part, I considered my disability a cosmetic issue,” she tells us in On the Whole. “Just how obvious is it? Do people see me as pretty despite the limp?” But now she’s got a new baby to care for, and no one has warned her what a physical job she has taken on. She can’t bathe her son by herself or carry him up or down a flight of stairs. Nor can she feed herself or even open a refrigerator with a baby in her arms. And her baby will settle for nothing less than being in her arms. With lyricism and candor, poet Ona Gritz shares her son’s first years with us, a time when she wanted nothing more than what all of us want—to be the perfect mother, only her imperfections kept getting in the way.
Ona Gritz’ short memoir about how new motherhood put her face to face with her own physical limitations reads like poetry. This should be required reading for all new moms, those living with a disability, or those who simply need a healthy dose of inspiration to get through hump day.
— Page Bennett on BlogHer
Nick Jr. Family Magazine officially named Tangerines & Tea, My Grandparents & Me the Best Alphabet Book of 2005. Scholastic Parent & Child Magazine named it one of only six Best Books for 2005, and included it in their list of Teacher’s Picks.
“Enjoy wrapping your mouth around “a boy in a bath with a bubbly laugh.” Cheerful paintings and rhyming ABC couplets boost reading readiness as they tell of a visit to grandparents’ farm. (Ages 4+).”-Nick Jr. Family Magazine, December 2005.
“Nostalgic and serene, this alphabet book follows two siblings on their adventure-filled visits to their grandparents’ farm. There are “apples to share in the crisp autumn air,” “an oak tree to climb one limb at a time, ” and of course, “tangerines and tea at the table with me.” –Scholastic Parent & Child Magazine, December 2005.
“A book for sharing and teaching.”-Booklist, May 2005.
“Buy this for its charming testament to time together and its enchanting artwork.”-School Library Journal, September 2005.
“Arch, brash, cunning.”-Kirkus, August 2005.
“Effectively captures a sense of childlike wonder and joy in everyday experiences…an impressive feat of composition as well as a pleasing read aloud…”-The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, October 2005.
This series of visceral, poignant poems has the force of a
sudden storm and the intensity of that storm’s relief. In Left
Standing Ona Gritz taps into a passionate current of feeling that
pulses from child to parent and back again. Brilliant in craft,
naked and direct in expression, each poem moves us forward
with yet another truth until we are left standing in the cleared
air of candor, ready – as the poet is — to begin life renewed.
The death of one’s parents often gives rise to the birth of one’s
self. This is certainly true in the case of Ona Gritz’s poetic voice
that emerges out of and is limned by these twin primal deaths.
In lines characterized by their emotional restraint, linguistic
terseness, and humility, Left Standing left me moved by the
power of the unsaid that hovers ghostlike around the said, as
Gritz’s memories of her parents haunt these evocative poems
Ona Gritz’s response to the death of parents is deft and
generally understated, and as a result her little book of
narrative poems has the impact of a much larger work. With
gentleness, humor and forgiveness, she explores her parents’
rocky marriage and her place in it. In the end she can lay her
angry parents side by side in a heaven where Dad reads a
blank newspaper, Mom writes home on an Elvis postcard and
God gives a great back rub. Strong, accessible poems–certainly
a good first book! –Lois Marie Harrod
My first book for children, Starfish Summer, is available on Amazon.com.