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Dunce

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Through her many projects across numerous genres, Mary Ruefle has proven herself a singular artist, drawing many fans from around the world to her unique vision. With Dunce she returns to the practice that has always been at her core: the making of poems. With her startlingly fresh sensibility, she enraptures us in poem after poem by the intensity of her attention, with Through her many projects across numerous genres, Mary Ruefle has proven herself a singular artist, drawing many fans from around the world to her unique vision. With Dunce she returns to the practice that has always been at her core: the making of poems. With her startlingly fresh sensibility, she enraptures us in poem after poem by the intensity of her attention, with the imaginative flourishes of her being-in-the-world, which is always deep with mysteries, unexpected appearances, and abiding yearning.


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Through her many projects across numerous genres, Mary Ruefle has proven herself a singular artist, drawing many fans from around the world to her unique vision. With Dunce she returns to the practice that has always been at her core: the making of poems. With her startlingly fresh sensibility, she enraptures us in poem after poem by the intensity of her attention, with Through her many projects across numerous genres, Mary Ruefle has proven herself a singular artist, drawing many fans from around the world to her unique vision. With Dunce she returns to the practice that has always been at her core: the making of poems. With her startlingly fresh sensibility, she enraptures us in poem after poem by the intensity of her attention, with the imaginative flourishes of her being-in-the-world, which is always deep with mysteries, unexpected appearances, and abiding yearning.

30 review for Dunce

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jerrie (redwritinghood)

    I found these poems rather strange. I liked a few, but for many of them I felt like I was reading the random thoughts of a very eccentric person. That might work for some, but it was not for me.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Tyler Barton

    This book sucker punched me and headbutted me into happiness

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ben Niespodziany

    Some that warmed my heart, others that gutted me, and all of which dazzled and delighted. One I’ll read again and again, probably this week.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mina-Louise Berggren

    all my best Sundays start with poetry. my favourite poem in this was maybe: Lorraine Once I had a plum tree. It was small but sturdy and every April I threw its petals in the stream. They intoxicated everyone, even the postman. Even the postman knows I am more homesick than E.T. and lonelier than my middle name. I live with mice and bats where once I had toy cars and paper airplanes. Like a wild swan with a blue shadow, I no longer care what I say. You no longer exist. I try to remember my dream but as all my best Sundays start with poetry. my favourite poem in this was maybe: Lorraine Once I had a plum tree. It was small but sturdy and every April I threw its petals in the stream. They intoxicated everyone, even the postman. Even the postman knows I am more homesick than E.T. and lonelier than my middle name. I live with mice and bats where once I had toy cars and paper airplanes. Like a wild swan with a blue shadow, I no longer care what I say. You no longer exist. I try to remember my dream but as soon as I turn on the shower it's gone.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Valley

    So much of this book made me so happy.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    no review - interview forthcoming!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    !!! half these poems are absolutely fantastic. the other half fall a little too far into the childish-whimsy aspect of ruefle’s tone.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Liz Mc2

    As I was reading this collection I felt "I don't get this at all" and it seemed really slight and whimsical. But I keep thinking about "Halloween" and the way an animatronic corpse makes her think of her mother, "a corpse in me." Elisa Gabbert's review helped me appreciate these poems more, though I still feel I don't really get them: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/18/bo...

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    Genesis Oh, I said, this is going to be. And it was. Oh, I said, this will never happen. But it did. And a purple fog descended upon the land. The roots of trees curled up. The world was divided into two countries. Every photograph taken in the first was of people. Every photograph taken in the second showed none. All of the girl children were named And. All of the boy children named Then.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    Obsessed. Filled with the type of poems filled with the types of lines filled with the types of words that exist for these pages. These poems set me on fire!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Miya

    I have loved Mary Ruefle for a very long time, so I was excited to find that she had a new book of poems out. Reading them was a mix of emotions. I really loved a lot of them (there are many dog-eared pages to prove this), but a lot of them also fell flat for me, too. What I've always admired about Ruefle is her ability to take a very strange image and make it not so strange by the end of the the piece. She creates these links between ideas and image that are so powerful. Dunce both did and did I have loved Mary Ruefle for a very long time, so I was excited to find that she had a new book of poems out. Reading them was a mix of emotions. I really loved a lot of them (there are many dog-eared pages to prove this), but a lot of them also fell flat for me, too. What I've always admired about Ruefle is her ability to take a very strange image and make it not so strange by the end of the the piece. She creates these links between ideas and image that are so powerful. Dunce both did and did not do this well. Some of her images were big misses for me (the use of the word 'horsey' really threw me for a loop), but when she was on, she was on. Overall, I both loved and didn't love this, which I guess is okay.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Allison

    I enjoy Ruefle’s playful poetry because it is ultimately without pretension. Few poets make me giggle like Mary. Aesthetically too, I love her books themselves, always simple black-and-white with clean, sans serif type. Why that matters to me, I don’t know, but it does. That said, I thought this collection was lackluster compared to her previous. I even enjoyed her essay collection (Madness, Rack, and Honey) more. Dunce was - for me - a whiff. Perhaps I’m just not a good reader right now during I enjoy Ruefle’s playful poetry because it is ultimately without pretension. Few poets make me giggle like Mary. Aesthetically too, I love her books themselves, always simple black-and-white with clean, sans serif type. Why that matters to me, I don’t know, but it does. That said, I thought this collection was lackluster compared to her previous. I even enjoyed her essay collection (Madness, Rack, and Honey) more. Dunce was - for me - a whiff. Perhaps I’m just not a good reader right now during a busy life season, but nothing really stuck here. Anyhoot, my favorite poem was I Cannot Be Quiet An Hour. I love too this line: “... this day / was wet on top and happy / like a cupcake.”

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lara

    This day announcing the importance of confetti ___ Oh blank and hopeless days! Oh long sleepless nights! They are forgotten now as I turn on the cold clear water of the stream. All the rivers of the world convene in me. They rush over my hands, they enter my mouth, they cover my face. I am compelled to drink my own tears, as you too will be when you wake. ___ In the meantime, walking here in the wind and rain, apparently inspired, I brace myself for a sortie.

  14. 4 out of 5

    M. Sarki

    Really inconsequential and forgettable poetry, if one must call it poetry. Absolutely nothing of feeling here, just empty words explaining away what could have been shown, instead, distinctly. ...you sit quietly and in great silence, like a gnome on a stump, one of the older ones, smoking a pipe filled with bewilderment and regret... A disappointment for sure from one of our so-called anointed ones.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Eliot

    Weird, good, sloppy, vaulting, candid, sparkling poems. Some pretty high highs and a handful off real duds. Hard to reconcile some of these poems as part of the same collection. 4 stars for the flourishes of unimaginable language and the privilege of getting to watch a manically imaginative mind at work.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Abigail Zimmer

    Mary Ruefle’s poems feel airy and start small, concerned with an empty drawer while cleaning, which somehow opens into larger questions, a memory of friendship formed over radishes, learning to say goodbye. This collection is no different. The middle slows a bit but the series of poems that open and close the book are lovely and worth getting the book for.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Leigh Witzling

    Mary is delightful as always. She makes me curious about the mundane, and somehow excited by her weariness? I’m not sure I can describe it any other way. Lovers of her Trances of the Blast will enjoy this collection.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Leigh Martella

    I was hoping for more. There was a lot of playful language and playing with language. But nothing remarkable.

  19. 5 out of 5

    k

    mary ruefle is a genius, this book made me miss my mom.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Aya

    You see? From radishes comes joy

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mills College Library

    811.54 R919d 2019

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mandy E

    to begin with apple peel and end with potato peel

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alicia Hoffman

    It didn't hold a flame to Madness, Rack, and Honey. That being said, I love the way Ruefle's mind/language work. The poems in this collection are both whimsy and gravitas, nonsensical and sublime.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Zach

    So few non-collected-works-of poetry collections work for me.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ron Mohring

    Mary Ruefle continues to amaze me with her work.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Morgane

    so so beautiful. it’s like she takes the mess of my mind and brings it into the sunlight to smooth it out. how does she know what i’m thinking? i almost cried several times.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jim Coughenour

    I feel like a dunce for not liking this more.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rachel B

  29. 4 out of 5

    Justin

  30. 5 out of 5

    Max McDevitt

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