In her biggest, most varied, selection of poems, A Girl Goes into The Woods, Lyn Lifshin's intimate, intense, startling poems range from adolescent experiences any young (or not so young) woman can identify with, to the roller coaster ride of agony to ecstasy relationships. In her unique and magical way she explores the complicated, mysterious, ambivalent relationship between mothers and daughters, that constantly changing braid of pain and joy, of control and rebellion and then the reverse, as the daughter becomes the mother and the deaths of stages of the relationship continue. The book takes us into the immigrant experience, the ravages of Auschwitz, to Hiroshima, Vietnam, Iraq and September 11 as well as natural disasters like Katrina, the 2005 Indonesia tsunami, the Japanese tsunami and the 2010 Haiti earthquake. She lets us into the world of mad girls, Madonnas, dancers and shares secrets of poets from Robert Frost, who praised her early poems, to Dylan Thomas and Garcia Lorca. Lifshin gives us moments in Paris, Quebec, the Caribbean and Costa Rico and plunges us into the beauty of Southwestern ruins, quiet New England snowscapes, Midwestern roads with a radio playing and special moments with horses and cats, summer lakes and the firefly filled nights in the town in which she grew up.
Like a beautiful bracelet set with precious stones and glinting with the mysteries of identity in childhood and relationships, A Girl Goes into the Woods contains Barbies, war, ballet, horses, geese, and flowers. There are recollections of sweet fruits offered by Lyn's mother and waiting to be asked to dance, encounters with lovers and what it was like for her relatives to come to America. A cornucopia of a very full life, this book is written as only Lyn Lifshin can write, filled with the vitality of what it's like to be female and therefore, to be human.
I love the way [A Girl Goes into the Woods] deals with the transience of life related to the seasons, the sky lights, intimate relationships. Sex now, sex lost, sex reborn. Families, everything in the context of Moving Time. Paris, some local forest/park, everything talks to you, gets inside you and always keeps whispering "Transience. Grab on to what you have, the Now, however it is, as it melts around/inside you."
A Girl Goes into the Woods explores the was / is / might be. This volume is very much Lyn Lifshin…translating things we feel but cannot articulate, we are exposed…our hands held by the author. In Ms. Lifshin's distinctive style, this collection takes the reader to every emotional corner. The reader will discover and rediscover the real and the imagined. A Girl Goes into the Woods shows Ms. Lifshin’s mastery; her art and artifice will surprise no one and delight everyone.
The word used most often to describe Lyn Lifshin is "prolific"—and we should all count our lucky stars for that! She is, arguably, our most enduring and compelling contemporary poet, and for all her prodigious output, this latest book is the definitive collection of her extensive and impressive body of work—a must-have-on-your-literary-shelf for longtime Lifshin fans, and a special treat for those young poets who have yet to discover her.