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Sun in Days: Poems

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From the acclaimed poet and critic Meghan O’Rourke comes a powerful collection about the frailty of the body, the longing for a child, and the philosophical questions raised when the body goes dramatically awry. In formally ambitious poems and lyric essays, Sun in Days gives voice to the experience of illness, the permanence of loss, and invigorating moments of grace. Wres From the acclaimed poet and critic Meghan O’Rourke comes a powerful collection about the frailty of the body, the longing for a child, and the philosophical questions raised when the body goes dramatically awry. In formally ambitious poems and lyric essays, Sun in Days gives voice to the experience of illness, the permanence of loss, and invigorating moments of grace. Wresting a recuperative beauty from one’s days, O’Rourke traces an arc from loss and illness to the life force of pregnancy and motherhood. Along the way, she investigates a newfound existential awareness of all that vanishes. This is O’Rourke’s most ambitious book to date: unsentimental yet deeply felt, and characterized by the lyric precision and force of observation for which her work is known. From “Idiopathic Illness” What can be said? I came w/o a warranty, Stripped of me—or me-ish-ness— I was a will in a subpar body. I waxed toward all that waned inside.


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From the acclaimed poet and critic Meghan O’Rourke comes a powerful collection about the frailty of the body, the longing for a child, and the philosophical questions raised when the body goes dramatically awry. In formally ambitious poems and lyric essays, Sun in Days gives voice to the experience of illness, the permanence of loss, and invigorating moments of grace. Wres From the acclaimed poet and critic Meghan O’Rourke comes a powerful collection about the frailty of the body, the longing for a child, and the philosophical questions raised when the body goes dramatically awry. In formally ambitious poems and lyric essays, Sun in Days gives voice to the experience of illness, the permanence of loss, and invigorating moments of grace. Wresting a recuperative beauty from one’s days, O’Rourke traces an arc from loss and illness to the life force of pregnancy and motherhood. Along the way, she investigates a newfound existential awareness of all that vanishes. This is O’Rourke’s most ambitious book to date: unsentimental yet deeply felt, and characterized by the lyric precision and force of observation for which her work is known. From “Idiopathic Illness” What can be said? I came w/o a warranty, Stripped of me—or me-ish-ness— I was a will in a subpar body. I waxed toward all that waned inside.

30 review for Sun in Days: Poems

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ken

    Accessible and approachable, Meghan O'Rourke's poems cover the quotidian of past and present, pregnancy and pain. Pain? Yes. A whole section devoted to pain that the whitecoats cannot diagnose, so if you are one of the legions out there with mystery diseases (going around in this chemical age), you might especially like this section. Here's a taste of her work: "Poem of Regret for an Old Friend" What you did wasn’t so bad. You stood in a small room, waiting for the sun. At least you told yourself tha Accessible and approachable, Meghan O'Rourke's poems cover the quotidian of past and present, pregnancy and pain. Pain? Yes. A whole section devoted to pain that the whitecoats cannot diagnose, so if you are one of the legions out there with mystery diseases (going around in this chemical age), you might especially like this section. Here's a taste of her work: "Poem of Regret for an Old Friend" What you did wasn’t so bad. You stood in a small room, waiting for the sun. At least you told yourself that. I know it was small, but there was something, a kind of pulped lemon, at the low edge of the sky. No, you’re right, it was terrible. Terrible to live without love in small rooms with vinyl blinds listening to music secretly, the secret music of one’s head which can’t be shared. A dream is the only way to breathe. But you must find a more useful way to live. I suppose you’re right this was a failure: to stand there so still, waiting for—what? When I think about this life, the life you led, I think of England, of secret gardens that never open, and novels sliding off the bed at night where the small handkerchief of darkness settles over one’s face.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ellie

    A heart-wrenching exploration of loss and pain. O'Rourke writes of her longing for the child she never had yet imagine in great detail. She also confronts her illness, a sickness whose causes are unknown and therefore can not be treated effectively. She doubts at times the realness of this energy sapping sickness that no one understands (one acquaintance says dismissively, "Everyone is tired.") not even her. The poems examine the construct of the self, the "I" we all imagine being and how that i A heart-wrenching exploration of loss and pain. O'Rourke writes of her longing for the child she never had yet imagine in great detail. She also confronts her illness, a sickness whose causes are unknown and therefore can not be treated effectively. She doubts at times the realness of this energy sapping sickness that no one understands (one acquaintance says dismissively, "Everyone is tired.") not even her. The poems examine the construct of the self, the "I" we all imagine being and how that is attacked, even dismantled by the experience of illness. All this is done with a combination of lyrical essays and beautifully wrought poems. O'Rourke also wrote the incredibly moving memoir of her mother's death, The Long Goodbye which moved me to tears and remained with me long after finishing the last page (something I value highly in a book; so many disappear immediately upon completion). This volume is satisfying on many levels: emotionally as well as the formal beauty of the writing and images. O'Rourke's confrontation with the experience of loss (hopes for the future, bodily strength) is deeply moving and entirely unsentimental. Strongly recommended.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    I loved, loved, loved this poetry collection! I seem to have gotten out of the habit of reading poetry as of late, but something about this book spoke to me. I now want to read everything O'Rourke has written! Divided into three parts, the author seamlessly weaves together an enchanting array of poems dealing with childhood, mothers, children, and illness. Historical figures (ex: Van Gogh) come out to play, too, allowing the author a chance to make them come alive in the reader's mind, played ou I loved, loved, loved this poetry collection! I seem to have gotten out of the habit of reading poetry as of late, but something about this book spoke to me. I now want to read everything O'Rourke has written! Divided into three parts, the author seamlessly weaves together an enchanting array of poems dealing with childhood, mothers, children, and illness. Historical figures (ex: Van Gogh) come out to play, too, allowing the author a chance to make them come alive in the reader's mind, played out against the backdrop of the author's life. This book is a marvel. Thank you to Edelweiss and W. W. Norton for providing me with an advance copy.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jerrie (redwritinghood)

    Good collection of poems dealing with her struggles with infertility and an autoimmune disorder that had the doctors stumped.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kristina

    A stunning and necessary exploration of life with a chronic illness. In her essay ‘Why Does Literature Have So Little to Say About Chronic Illness’ (http://lithub.com/why-does-literature...), O’Rourke mourns the absence of writing on a topic that affects so many of us. She addresses it both head-on and in extremely subtle ways here, but address it she does - and the result is empathetic, and moving, and spoke to my very core as someone who has not seen herself and her illness represented accurat A stunning and necessary exploration of life with a chronic illness. In her essay ‘Why Does Literature Have So Little to Say About Chronic Illness’ (http://lithub.com/why-does-literature...), O’Rourke mourns the absence of writing on a topic that affects so many of us. She addresses it both head-on and in extremely subtle ways here, but address it she does - and the result is empathetic, and moving, and spoke to my very core as someone who has not seen herself and her illness represented accurately (or at all) in any art form before this. I am endlessly grateful to Meghan O’Rourke for making me feel seen and understood, and imagine I am far from alone in this sentiment.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Chris Roberts

    Spur of the moment espousing, in any form is optimum, unpracticed and reaches highest stratospheric. This book is an overly obvious construct, less the oceanfront view. Ego tangential, Poetry suicides itself famously, form will never equal me, unpredictable drop dead dangerously. Chris Roberts, Patron Saint of Whooping Cranes

  7. 4 out of 5

    Monica Snyder

    I bought this volume of narrative poems at a used bookstore in NYC while there for a neurosurgeon appointment for my oldest daughter. Very rarely have I read poetry that explores and expresses the suffering of chronic illness, loss and grief without personifying the pain. The author’s writing is so true it’s as if she never considered an audience at all. True poetry I will return to again and again.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Darrin

    One of the shelves in the new books section of our library is devoted to poetry. Mainly the small publications...the chapbooks and slim volumes that poets publish but also the occasional larger collection. I have decided to pick a random selection off this shelf once a month to familiarize myself with a new poet. Meghan O'Rourke's Sun in Days: Poems is the first book I chose and what a good choice it was. I liked the cover first of all and the first couple of poems hooked me almost immediately. T One of the shelves in the new books section of our library is devoted to poetry. Mainly the small publications...the chapbooks and slim volumes that poets publish but also the occasional larger collection. I have decided to pick a random selection off this shelf once a month to familiarize myself with a new poet. Meghan O'Rourke's Sun in Days: Poems is the first book I chose and what a good choice it was. I liked the cover first of all and the first couple of poems hooked me almost immediately. These are very personal poems about regret, dissatisfaction with herself, with her body, poems about chronic illness and pain and feelings of looking at herself as if she were on the outside looking in and poems about loss. A couple of favorites...the eponymous poem, Sun in Days....a poem of childhood memories, some better than others, memories of her parents, melancholy, bittersweet.... Mnemonic...My favorite lines are, "What have I done with this year of living? I fretted & fanged, was a kind of slang of myself." I love this last line...reminds me of 2017. A Note on Process...which begins with the author watching a gymnast on Youtube, all the while, comparing herself to the gymnast and the medical processes she is going through as a patient with a chronic disease being treated in a hospital. Looking at her bio and bibliography I noted a memoir called A Long Goodbye about the death of her mother that I put on my to-read list and now have home from the library. I am looking forward to starting this book soon.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jane Glossil

    Poems about infertility or miscarriage, mortality, ego death, chronic pain, and illness. Meghan writes about having a mysterious illness that no doctors could identify. While reading about her illness I thought, it must be the grief. This book was published after The Long Goodbye, a memoir about her mother's death. I read somewhere that sometimes our bodies reflect our emotional pain, so our emotional or mental illness can cause or trigger our physical illnesses. I like how her writing did not so Poems about infertility or miscarriage, mortality, ego death, chronic pain, and illness. Meghan writes about having a mysterious illness that no doctors could identify. While reading about her illness I thought, it must be the grief. This book was published after The Long Goodbye, a memoir about her mother's death. I read somewhere that sometimes our bodies reflect our emotional pain, so our emotional or mental illness can cause or trigger our physical illnesses. I like how her writing did not sound edited. Reading it takes you through her journey of her illness. The poems did not make much sense individually. I felt more like picking some prose out of those poems. I like the last poem and how it just faded out with the last line. I like how the individually nonsensical poems seemed to fit the intention of this collection, which was to convey how her illness affected her.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    Recommending this to anyone who feels outside their body, who feels captive by their body, who has a chronic illness that struggles to tear them apart from their body, who questions what the term "I" means, who feels they are always at the borderline between living and dying. Would have given it 5 stars if not for this one silly poem that just screamed Rupi Kaur. Otherwise, very precise and evocative imagery and at times playful yet always elegiac. Recommending this to anyone who feels outside their body, who feels captive by their body, who has a chronic illness that struggles to tear them apart from their body, who questions what the term "I" means, who feels they are always at the borderline between living and dying. Would have given it 5 stars if not for this one silly poem that just screamed Rupi Kaur. Otherwise, very precise and evocative imagery and at times playful yet always elegiac.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    3.5 stars This collection starts off really strong and slowly loses steam, but I did really appreciate it. Rounding up my star rating for overall quality of writing style, even if there were some individual poems I didn't love (the longer poems were a mixed bag for me, but had some nice moments). O'Rourke tackles some really heavy topics (grief, miscarriage/infertility, chronic pain) and makes them very accessible but still illuminates them in a unique way. (A random aside: I've noticed a trend, 3.5 stars This collection starts off really strong and slowly loses steam, but I did really appreciate it. Rounding up my star rating for overall quality of writing style, even if there were some individual poems I didn't love (the longer poems were a mixed bag for me, but had some nice moments). O'Rourke tackles some really heavy topics (grief, miscarriage/infertility, chronic pain) and makes them very accessible but still illuminates them in a unique way. (A random aside: I've noticed a trend, if you can call it that, in contemporary poetry where there's an introductory poem all by itself, followed by sections of poems. This is probably the third or fourth time I've seen that in the past year, and I never noticed it before! It's kind of an interesting way to set the tone for the collection, but it's kind of hit or miss whether it actually is effective in that purpose...) Highlights: The title poem is a nice meditation on youth/childhood and memory. These lines from "Mnemonic" are just next level poetry, and I bow to their excellence: "What / have I done with this year of living? / I fretted & fanged, / was a kind of / slang of myself." Get it. "The Night Where You No Longer Live" is a clever musing on the moment of dying. "Ever" was one of my favorite poems in the collection, and I love the way she uses repetition to reinforce the frustrating, broken record-like quality of grief. "Mistaken Self-Portrait as Mother of an Unmade Daughter" has some really poignant observations about existence. "At Père Lachaise" is just lovely, a bit of melancholy imagination. Some great lines from "Idiopathic Illness:" "What can be said? I came w/o a warranty. / Stripped of me--or me-ish-ness-- / I was a will in a subpar body. / I waxed toward all that waned." I usually don't like poems about actual childbirth for reasons, but "Mortals" was the perfect bittersweet description. I definitely think it's a collection worth checking out, and I will probably read more by O'Rourke in the future.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    rly liked this collection!! loved the gymnast long poem about striving, the point of it being itself ("my body... a tool driven by unwavering concentration and desire"), how around competition/bodies that's rarely so pure but still there. it was how i felt watching cheer earlier this year, these beautiful teens trying so hard and purely for something so fleeting and weighed w cultural baggage!! currently trying to learn a back walkover while unemployed living w my mom because "when I finished [th rly liked this collection!! loved the gymnast long poem about striving, the point of it being itself ("my body... a tool driven by unwavering concentration and desire"), how around competition/bodies that's rarely so pure but still there. it was how i felt watching cheer earlier this year, these beautiful teens trying so hard and purely for something so fleeting and weighed w cultural baggage!! currently trying to learn a back walkover while unemployed living w my mom because "when I finished [the gymnast's] biography I made a list of what I had 'done' all day. This was a failure, as it should have taken as much time to write as living itself did" poignant contrast w her own illness/disability. i'm not sure how to write about my relating without sounding trivializing... but i related, and was reminded of this article i can't find anymore about how able ppl struggling w quarantine can learn from disability theory, "crip time" etc though love loved gymnast poem i generally liked her non-prosey stuff. i like how her tone is conversational without being didactic, linear. images are primary, contradictions ("I am glorious, and wrong" from the meriweather lewis poem, so complex), juxtaposition through form/language -- like slicing fragments together, homonyms -- the stuff that poetry is uniquely good at! my attn span has been shot recently and i've been struggling to read; this was perfect to get back into. i've avoided some poetry that can feel too crisp/tweetlike (didactic, i guess), but i felt like i could let o'rourke's ambiguity wash over me without feeling lost, just sit comfortably in my constantly (these days) foggy head

  13. 4 out of 5

    ariel

    4.5* this was just simply mesmerizing. the writing sucked me in, and i feel personally connected to each of the poems. the poems about her mothers death, her depression, her abortion, her illness was all so raw and blazed across the page like a bolt of electricity. there were so many true lines that i was constantly thinking “me too!!!” - she put the right words together in exactly the perfect way. there were one or two instances when i didn’t connect completely to the poems but all the rest of t 4.5* this was just simply mesmerizing. the writing sucked me in, and i feel personally connected to each of the poems. the poems about her mothers death, her depression, her abortion, her illness was all so raw and blazed across the page like a bolt of electricity. there were so many true lines that i was constantly thinking “me too!!!” - she put the right words together in exactly the perfect way. there were one or two instances when i didn’t connect completely to the poems but all the rest of them (to me) were flawless. i can’t speak on O’Rourke herself because i knew nothing about her aside from what’s shared here, but i did love this little book. i’m not sure if rereading it in the future would make this as impactful, so, for the time being: i likes this. a lot. it this also made me super interested in reading more on meriwether lewis, so there’s that.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Charlie

    When you read a poem from Meghan O'Rourke's collection Sun in Days, you'll probably know what the poem is 'about,' i.e. the death of her mother or her attempts at having a child, the two main topics she bravely confronts here, and there is plenty of verbal artistry at play in the construction of these conspicuous poems. Likewise, O'Rourke signposts much of the intertextual elements of the collection, whether it be to historical figures or to other works, but that doesn't much take away from thei When you read a poem from Meghan O'Rourke's collection Sun in Days, you'll probably know what the poem is 'about,' i.e. the death of her mother or her attempts at having a child, the two main topics she bravely confronts here, and there is plenty of verbal artistry at play in the construction of these conspicuous poems. Likewise, O'Rourke signposts much of the intertextual elements of the collection, whether it be to historical figures or to other works, but that doesn't much take away from their power.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Shelly

    Especially enjoyed the poems with historical characters.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Carrie Ridgeway

    It was Okay.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lovelene Pearl

    I’m falling asleep majority of the time, though some pieces hit the right spots, I couldn’t ignore most of my feelings when I read this

  18. 5 out of 5

    A.

    This broke my heart in the best of ways. Need to send to a friend who has been struggling of late w/ chronic illness.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Impressionistic, rhythmic. I adore these qualities in paintings, but am not so sure about them in poetry. Some lines hit me viscerally; some pages left me empty. To rate this would be dishonest.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kathi Hansen

    evocative and lovely

  21. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea

  22. 5 out of 5

    Susan

  23. 5 out of 5

    OTIS

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ingrid

  25. 4 out of 5

    Grayson

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jen Ashburn

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jack

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kate Mildew

  29. 5 out of 5

    Holly

  30. 5 out of 5

    Claire Crean

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