Word Has It, by American poet, Ruth Danon takes on the unease that has accompanied the troubling politics that have created so much disturbance in the last few years. The book launches the reader into a journey marked by foreboding and innuendo. In the first section the speaker proceeds on an uneasy path while a character named “Word,” referring to herself in the third person, offers acerbic commentary along the way. In the second section the speaker retreats first into the domestic, then to a deeper interiority in which a journey through the rooms of a house embodies a study of various states of consciousness that lead her to the recognition of her role as a poet. By the end of the second section the speaker in ready to leave the interior space and venture into the third section, where she takes on the daunting poetic task of augury. The foreboding of the first section culminates in the violence that has been hinted at all along.
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"Danon evokes language as backdrop, as foundation, as scaffolding – a quiet though inexorable landscape in which we witness our most cherished and frightening transformations..."
—Kristina Marie Darling, editor in chief, Tupelo Press
"Ruth Danon gives us one of her most darkly oracular works. ...The poems are acid,ingenious, and unsentimental."
–Andrew Levy, editor, Resist Much, Obey Little
"...Deep and skeptical, natural and magical, melancholic and beautiful, Danon’s oracle makes a truly compelling statement – one to be heeded, one to be savored."
– Stephen Massimilla,, author, The Plague Doctor in His Hull Shaped Hat and Cooking with the Muse
"Ruth Danon’s extraordinary poems take us directly into states of feeling and perception that are subtle and profound.. ...These are necessary poems."
–Chase Twichell, author, Horses Where the Answers Should Have Been (winner of Kingsley Tufts Award)
“I’ve been reading Ruth Danon’s poetry for many years, always with pleasure. She is one of the most honest and affecting poets on the current scene, a writer more than willing to take deep emotional risks, bringing the reader close the flame. She says she is "lucky knowing / that everything tends / to a particular moment” in her latest collection. I suspect that much of her work as a poet has tended toward the moments gathered in Limitless Tiny Boat. It’s important work, and Danon takes us far beyond the fringes of thought and feeling.”
-Jay Parini, author of NEW AND COLLECTED POEMS, 1975-2015
Ruth Danon seems to gather all of life into her Limitless, Tiny Boat—or to explore every corner, every inch of the limitless, tiny boat that is life. In these flawlessly sculpted, deeply considered and compelling poems, Danon probes the machinery of life—how it sputters, hums along, gets stuck, stops, then restarts, hums along again. She shows how we must reckon with the terrors and consolations of the physical world, make an existential tally, and move on. “Words are / the only boat I have,” she writes. And then, “Really the trick is to estimate / from here, the journey outward.” This book is a beautiful reckoning, an astute tallying, and a profound journey through the dark and bright corridors that make up a life.
-Laura Sims, My God is this a Man,
By investigating the minutiae of life—the stuff that anchors us, a stone and its echo, paradoxes constructed by language—Ruth Danon investigates nothing short of Thanatos and Eros. The journey of the LIMITLESS TINY BOAT is fierce and fearless. Watch out! These poems expand and contract—breathe—as they are read. A substantial achievement.
-Martine Bellen, This Amazing Cage of Light
Like any passageway between the profane and the sacred, Ruth Danon's poems keep looking for home: "Words are the only boat I have." She writes in her second collection, Limitless Tiny Boat. Danon's voice is intimate, wary, disarming, alive with intelligence and the "extreme urgency of patience". Though she claims that "three lines suggest a narrative", she also admits that "Narrative eludes me..." The material facts of a body in pain, in love find expression in the book's central sequence, a meditation that swerves from a "small cooking pot" to peristalsis: "The rose opens and closes its little mouth." As in the book's title, contradictions abound what is called "tiny" is also "limitless" in these profound itineraries that float between story and song, hope and hopelessness, mind and body.
Catherine Barnett, The Game of Boxes
Ruth Danon's poems manage to fuse seemingly irreconcilable qualities; they are both erudite and colloquial; concerned with ideas yet frankly personal. They have the reach of abstraction while also being tactile and concrete. The result is a shimmering originality that makes Limitless Tiny Boat a marvel to read.
Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad
Ruth Danon layers disparate voices - from the impersonally oracular to the colloquially funny - as if in three dimensions, and by their echoes we can place ourselves with surprising accuracy.
- Ann Beattie
Ruth Danon's poems are full of wonder and quiet thoughtfulness. What is deepest about them is their clarity and their various tones of voice. They probe and unfold. The urgency of the poems is melodic, inviting.
- Michael Burkard