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Les Fauves
by Barbara Crooker
192 pages/62 poems
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1936196697
ISBN-13: 978-1936196692
Price: $16.00
Publisher: C&R Press (January 15, 2017)
To Order


Les Fauves is, as the title suggests, a collection of ekphrastic poetry, meditations on
paintings from the Fauve and Post-Impressionist movements. But it also contains poetry's
equivalent to Fauvism, poems that take a walk on the wild side. There are language experiment
poems, poems of word play, poems in form both usual (end rhymes, sonnets, ghazals) and unusual
(abecedaries, traditional, embedded, and double helix), palindromes, anagrams, and word scrambles.
Crazy word salad poems. Crooker's subjects range widely, from living and working in a small village
in the South of France, love in a long-term relationship, food as more than sustenance, faith in a
secular age, grammar and usage, the pains and pleasures of the aging body. But always, what engages
her most is what it means to be human on this fragile planet, at this time in our troubled history,
still believing that "Beauty will save the world." (Fyodor Dostoevsky).


Barbara Crooker's images, metaphors, and music are so enjoyable that we are shocked when she cuts
close to the bone. And yet we knew she would, because she is a serious poet, detailing both time and
space. Poetry lives in her. Here she focuses on Les Fauves, the "wild beasts," a group of painters in
sync with one another. They did not just stand the test of time; they defined time. Crooker's extra-
ordinary ability to write lines that float on air, examine the ekphrastic poem, and drift downstream
on lily pads open for us that world, that glorious and exhilarating world. You will return to this
book repeatedly because it is alive.
‐Kelly Cherry, author of The Life and Death of Poetry: Poems

Barbara Crooker's Les Fauves speaks for all of us who feel there's been a big mistake: we were meant
to be born in Paris, to have grown up eating baguettes in the shadow of the book stalls on the Seine‐
yet somehow here we are in Cleveland or Duluth or Pittsburgh, eating cheeseburgers and watching Fox
News. What went wrong? This sense of cosmic injustice fuels these beautiful meditations on food and
art, language and love. But if her subject is France, in all its sensual splendor, her sensibility is pure
Keatsian, passionately in love with "this sweet, sweet world." Barbara Crooker makes me believe‐with
gratitude‐that if we live well and attentively our lives will grow even richer, even sweeter, as we age
into our autumns.
‐George Bilgere, author of Imperial

Because Barbara Crooker's poems read easily, it can be easy to overlook the masterly craft of her work.
For example, in her latest volume Les Fauves, Crooker is a standout with the monorhyme ("Scrimshaw")
and the abecediary ("Alpha/Omega: Double Helix," "This American Life"). She is like someone who has
memorized a sonnet who can recite it nonchalantly at a moment's notice. Crooker also shares a sensibil-
ity with many of the artists she writes about, as in Vincent Van Gogh's "The Flowering Orchard, 1888":
"I want to be bathed in this radiance, / live here in a corner of the picture, raise / my face to the glow
like the overhead light / in my mother's kitchen, and never grow old.' Crooker's special gift is that she
makes you fall in love with the world over and over again.
‐Kim Bridgford, Director of Poetry by the Sea, Editor of Mezzo Cammin, author of The Human Interest


Barbara Crooker's poems have appeared in magazines such as The Green Mountains Review, The
Hollins Critic, Tar River Poetry Review, Smartish Pace, The Beloit Poetry Journal, Nimrod,
The Denver Quarterly, The Tampa Review, Poetry International, The Christian Century, and
and anthologies such as Good Poems for Hard Times (Viking Penguin),Boomer Girls
(University of Iowa Press), and Commonwealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania Penn State
University Press). Barbara Crooker is the recipient of the 2007 Pen and Brush Poetry Prize,
the 2006 Ekphrastic Poetry Award from Rosebud, the 2004 WB Yeats Society of New York Award,
the 2004 Pennsylvania Center for the Book Poetry in Public Places Poster Competition, the
2003 Thomas Merton Poetry of the Sacred Award, the 2003 "April Is the Cruelest Month" Award
from Poets & Writers, the 2000 New Millenium Writing's Y2K competition, the 1997 Karamu Poetry
Award, and others, including three Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Creative Writing Fellowships,
fifteen residencies at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, a residency at the Moulin à
Nef, Auvillar, France; and a residency at The Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Annaghmakerrig, Ireland. A
thirty-two time nominee for the Pushcart Prize, she was nominated for the 1997 Grammy Awards for
her part in the audio version of the popular anthology, Grow Old Along With Me‐The Best is
Yet to Be
(Papier Mache Press). She is the author of ten chapbooks, two of which won prizes in
national competitions: Ordinary Life won the ByLine Chapbook competition in 2001 and Impressionism
won the Grayson Books Chapbook competition in 2004. Radiance, her first book, won the 2005 Word
Press First Book competition and was a finalist for the 2006 Paterson Poetry Prize. Line Dance came
out in 2008 from Word Press and won the 2009 Paterson Award for Literary Excellence. More was
published by C&R Press in 2010 and Gold was published in 2013 by Cascade Books, a division of Wipf
and Stock, in their Poeima Poetry Series). Her poetry has been read on the BBC, the ABC (Australian
Broadcasting Company), and by Garrison Keillor on The Writer's Almanac.


Weather Systems
by Barbara Crooker

Sugar maples, little fires in the trees, every blazing gradation
of orange to red, and this makes me think of you, the way
you press the long length of your body against me, the heat
seeping through flannel, my own private furnace. If my hands
and feet had a color, it would be blue. From November
until May, I cannot get warm. Even my bones have cores
of ice. But you are a house on fire, an internal combustion
system, Sriracha sauce/jalapeño poppers/Thai curry. I stay up
late, read until you're asleep, so I can slip my icy feet, frozen
toes under the smoldering log of your torso. Even in the dark,
you radiate. I am a cold front, a polar low coming down
from the arctic. And you, why you, you're the sun.


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