“In this subtle and candid collection, Lisa Ampleman mixes contemporary elements and historical materials as she speaks back to the literary tradition of courtly love. Instead of bachelor knights bemoaning their allegedly cruel beloveds, Romances emphasizes the voices of female troubadours, along with those of historical figures such as Dante’s wife, Petrarch’s Laura, and Anne Boleyn. Ampleman also incorporates the work of the Italian Renaissance poet Gaspara Stampa, mentioned in Rilke’s Duino Elegies, through a series of adaptations of her verse. Elsewhere, a contemporary sonnet sequence dedicated to Courtney Love shows the 1990s grunge rocker as subject, object, performer, and mother. As her poems reflect on popular romantic ideas about the past, the means by which elegies romanticize the dead, or the conventional romance of a happy marriage, Ampleman addresses a range of romantic entanglements: courtly and commonplace, sentimental and prosaic, toxic and mutual.”
“In these wry, warm, learned, and formally dexterous poems, we find ourselves caught up in love—its twists, its turns, its fickleness, its fevers, its griefs, its unexpected happy endings. There’s a shock of pleasure on every page of this delightful book; as Ampleman asks, ‘What else do you expect from Love?'”— Melissa Range, author of Scriptorium and Horse and Rider
“Ampleman’s poems are the product of an extraordinary DNA splicing, combining the genetic material of Rilke, Dorothy Parker, Sir Thomas Wyatt, and—as evidenced in her collection’s masterful showpiece—Courtney Love. Ampleman merges formal elegance with punk sass and offers both a witty debunking of romantic love in all of its manifestations and heartfelt expressions of ardor. There’s consummate ingeniousness here—and formidable promise.”—David Wojahn, author of World Tree, winner of the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize
Advance review from Miracle Monocle available here.
Listed as “Must-Read Poetry” for February 2020 at The Millions: “Ampleman turns in her own direction to create a farcical take on contemporary love, yet one stitched with real sentiment.”
Lisa reads from Romances as part of the LSU Press Remote Author Series on YouTube.
winner of the Stevens Manuscript Competition
sponsored by the National Federation of State Poetry Societies
available from Amazon.com
“I enjoy the gentleness of these poems, their precision, their good humor, their sometimes sprightly, sometimes melancholy delicacy. The way they capture the world’s soft moments, the hushed utterances and muted tones that gather in the margins. Their warmth and intimacy, like family letters written in longhand on yellowed, age-crinkled paper and passed down from one generation to the next. Read them slowly, let them unfold at their own pace, in their own time, in your hands, in your inner ear.”
“It is the meditative, the narrative, the lyric, the range of the possibilities of poetic voice—sometimes within a single poem—that mounts steadily through this collection to rise into the full cry of the title. The phrase suggests fierce pursuit, and Lisa Ampleman is after big game: a Thou for the I, an exploration of human connection in flesh, and spirit, too—most elusive prey, all of it. But she’s a subtle tracker. Without a hint of the overblown—no wail in the cry these poems make—the book gives us the emotion, and the pleasure at its skillful rendering. I admire the way Ampleman triangulates on feeling, so that with two landscapes and a flash of story, say, or two stories and a cityscape, a poem will stake out the emotional truth of a situation, a truth told slant and more powerful for it.”
I’ve Been Collecting This to Tell You
“In the old story of love and loss, Lisa Ampleman’s I’ve Been Collecting This to Tell You cuts to the core of the matter with concision and subtlety. Hearts are laid bare, dissected, even grown anew. Masterfully structured and alert to the most vital details, this collection has lots to tell us—and a voice at once authentic and lyrical with which to do it.”
“In these poems, the beloved is a space the speaker moves through—at first with trepidation, then with gathering force— emerging finally into a hard-won world ravishing in its clarity under a brutally beautiful “sky pinking up/ like a newly healed limb.” The poems of Lisa Ampleman’s collection don’t flinch, and the reward of their acute seeing is a song that’s sustenance itself.”
“Lisa Ampleman’s subtle and beautifully wrought poems make way for the possibility that all is not ‘frenzy’ in this ‘agitated world.’ Although we might be ‘the walking wounded,’ and ‘like Thomas/ need the scars to believe,’ the poems assure us that we heal, that wholeness and grace await us.”
“A prairie is plain, they say—those who have not stood in one. And so, too, is an ordinary heartbreak, until Lisa Ampleman begins to unfold it in these closely observed and quietly surprising poems. Salvation doesn’t live here, but there’s plenty to salvage in the wry, self-effacing metaphors by which she harvests what wisdom experience yields.”