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In the Weather of the World / Estha Weiner

In the Weather of the World

By: Estha Weiner

“These poems embody what I most often love in poems: the contradiction of lucidity and strangeness, originality. Mostly urban, swift, and full of heart, we need not take shelter from the weather in this book. Its weather IS shelter!”  Thomas Lux “Estha Weiner writes poems that look effortless, yet their premise can change with every line, every syllable, like sonnets so honed as t...
ISBN 978-1-908836-23-6
Pub Date Friday, February 15, 2013
Cover Image Photo by Phyllis Gutmann, Martin Puryear sculpture
Page Count 102
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“These poems embody what I most often love in poems: the contradiction of lucidity and strangeness, originality. Mostly urban, swift, and full of heart, we need not take shelter from the weather in this book. Its weather IS shelter!”  Thomas Lux

“Estha Weiner writes poems that look effortless, yet their premise can change with every line, every syllable, like sonnets so honed as to be all volta. Erich Auerbach wrote that Dante discovered how to write about events, not just feelings. Weiner's poems are events themselves, contained whirlwinds; they can turn—as in ‘At the American Burger’—against the authorial stance.  In the Weather of the World is disciplined, volatile, subversive. It’s a thrill to watch Weiner’s lens zoom into an unassuming moment of daily life, inhabit it, and disclose the vast, strangely unexplored territories of contemporary history.”  D. Nurkse

“In the Weather of the World—that is just where Estha Weiner places us: not in big blowhard storms, but in those subtle gem-like moments of aftermath where things become clear.  These poems are wise in the way of irony and wit, ‘those much misunderstood tools of the most humane,’ as Weiner says in one poem.   Most humane as well are her understated compassion, and her fine eye for the telling gesture that shows us ourselves, both as individuals and as citizens of a larger world.  These marvelous poems give us the gift of a ‘heart cracked wider,’ and do so with a touch that is light and sure.”  Betsy Sholl

“How you don’t explain.  How you offer room for silence and stillness.  How you trust the poem to do its work.  Some poems, even those I like, feel as if the end is their final accomplishment, that is, once I’ve finished reading, I’m done, feel little desire to return, to experience them again, since the experience has already been had.  Your poems invite me back, are places that invite my lingering.  Moreover, they are the poems of poet as grown woman; their agenda does not seek to dazzle or impress or wow across their surfaces.  Instead of glamour I find nuance.  I experience joy in your work similar to the joy I find in the Chinese Book of Songs and Chekhov.  Szymborska meets Akhmatova out of your own particular experience”  James Tolan

Estha Weiner

ESTHA WEINER’s newest poetry collection is at the last minute (Salmon Poetry, 2019). She is author of In the Weather of the World (Salmon Poetry); The Mistress Manuscript (Asheville Book Works); Transfiguration Begins At Home (Tiger Bark Press); and co-editor/contributor to Blues for Bill: A Tribute to William Matthews (Akron Poetry Series, University of Akron Press). Her poems have appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines, including The  New Republic and Barrow Street, and six poems have been translated into Dutch. Winner of a Paterson Poetry Prize and a Visiting Scholar at The Shakespeare Institute, Stratford, England, Estha is founding director of Sarah Lawrence College NY Alumni/ae Writers Nights, Marymount Writers Nights, and a Speaker on Shakespeare for New York Council For The Humanities. She is a Professor at City University of NY, and Sarah Lawrence College Writing Institute and serves or has served on the Poetry/Writing faculties of The Frost Place, Hudson Valley Writers Center, Stone Coast Writers Conference, Poets and Writers, Poets House, and The Writers Voice. She also serves on the Advisory Committee of Slapering Hol Press, Hudson Valley Writers Center. In her previous life, Estha was an actor and worked for BBC Radio. 

Review: In the Weather of the World review by Rosalie Calabrease for American Book Review (Sept/Oct 2014)

The Seven Ages
by Rosalie Calabrese
From: American Book Review 
Volume 35, Number 6, September/October 2014 
p. 21 | 10.1353/abr.2014.0116

The poems in Estha Weiner’s third collection are arranged in seven sections, which made me think of Shakespeare’s “The Seven Ages of Man” speech in the play As You Like It (1623), although filtered through a woman’s perspective. Simply numbered I to VII, these sections could have been given titles such as Local, Farther Off, Farther Still, Europe, Weather/Nature, Tributes, and Portraits.

Short and succinct, yet saying so much more than is on the page, Weiner’s poems, addressing issues large and small, drew me into her world at the same time as they shed new light on my own memories and experiences. One of these poems is the subtly devastating “Two Days After,” which starts with an ordinary statement: “Finally some sun.” A mere dozen or so lines later:

…Carol tells me
her daughter was all dressed for her first Disco Night
at school, wearing the glitter tee shirt she’d wanted, when Carol realized
the New York skyline, the two towers on her daughter’s tiny breasts.

That is the last poem in the first section, which begins with the poignant “Home,”

[It] is a restaurant
on Cornelia Street
in Greenwich Village where you can eat breakfast blueberry cake like your mother
used to make, when she liked you or even herself;…

Arguably, all writing, even the speculative or journalistic kind, contains some elements of the writer’s own experience. Likewise, the reader brings to the story a personal perspective, sometimes giving the words a twist that the writer was not aware of. This may be most true in poetry, especially that style we term or verges on the confessional.
Although In The Weather of the World basically fits that description, several of the poems are conversational without actually being confessional. Using clear, straightforward language, they constitute miniature stories that appear, at first, to be easy reading but are not easily forgotten.

“Ritual: South Florida,” for example, is written in the third person and tells the story of an old woman, rather than the lighting of the Sabbath candles, “Every Friday, one dozen roses / to his grave, then / she gets her hair done: in this way she worships” I don’t personally know a women like that, but I know they are down there in South Florida, out in New York’s Brighton Beach, and many other places in the world.
There is much in this book to celebrate and cherish, like a new-found friend we learn about little by little, but it is the last line of “Goodnight David” that pretty much sums up the poetry:

…short sentences,
curious cadences,
and the irony, the wit,
those much misunderstood
tools of the most humane.

In addition to her own two previously published books, Weiner is co-editor and contributor to Blues for Bill: A Tribute to William Matthews (2005), so it is not surprising that the final poem is “Sprezzatura for W.M.” In it, Weiner writes:

…watch the innocence smolder to experience,
the laughter to irony,
the shadows deepen, the steps missed
the heart crack wider,
the touch
stay light.

What does surprise—and move me—however, is how aptly these words apply to my view of Estha Weiner herself as seen through her work.

Rosalie Calabrese is a management consultant for the arts whose poems have appeared in various magazines, journals, newspapers and on the Web. Listed in Who’s Who and the Poets and Writers Directory, she is also a writer of short stories as well as books and lyrics for musicals

Review of In the Weather of the World

Other Titles from Estha Weiner

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