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In the Land of Gods

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 The Woman Who Married Herself

The Woman Who Married Herself, Donna Spector
Reviews from Midwest Book Review and The Pedestal (PDF format)
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A Sinclair Poetry Prize Finalist

“Break us,” says Donna Spector, “and love pours out.” In The Woman Who Married Herself, poetry pours out as well, in poems of heartbreak and nostalgia, irony and laughter, reverie and acuity. This is a poetry that probes at life, discovering in the dramatic encounters with the past and present a knowledge of the world and of oneself that deepens and enriches our lives, too, marrying sensitivity with intelligence. Paul Kane

In The Woman Who Married Herself, Donna Spector gives us the gift of honesty and specificity to create powerful and rooted poems that bring us to tears. She makes us believe we know the people she writes about, know the complexities of life with all its confusion and shame, love and loss. These poems teach us how to survive. You will want to read this book again and again. Maria Mazziotti Gillan, Winner of American Book Award, 2008 for All That Lies Between Us

“Donna Spector’s book is wonderful–surreal, quirky, comical, full of life. Poems of childhood and family history, lovers and longing, travel, love as a search for life. Poems about her teachers–John Berryman, Thom Gunn, Louis Simpson. The Woman Who Married Herself “[o]pened boxes of china/so fine she could hold/a plate to the light and see her own/life beyond.” A perfect description of this book.” Sharon Doubiago,
Love on the Streets, Selected and New Poems, My Father’s Love, Portrait of the Poet as a Young Girl

 Lessons: Poems by Donna Spector

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Donna Spector’s Lessons is a cycle of vignettes, arranged chronologically, that depicts, through specific moments in the speaker-teacher’s career, the wide sweep of emotions one experiences during a career in education. Often poignant (the loss of students we carry like stones with us, although we may have forgotten their names), sometimes funny (a reactionary principal who doesn’t actually read anything), this book is a welcome acknowledgement of everyday scenarios for Spector’s fellow teachers, as well as a window onto the happiness and heartache of the profession for those who have been affected by teachers—which, of course, is all of us. —BJ Ward, Gravedigger’s Birthday, 17 Love Poems with No Despair, Landing in New Jersey with Soft Hands

Teachers are idealists who try hard to make the world a better place, in spite of all the interferences with demanding parents, inane politicians, and inept administrators who torment rather than lead. And we all fail miserably much of the time. In one poem in Lessons, Donna Spector advises her students “Don’t let fear stop you.” And she takes her own advice marvelously. These poems overflow with good students, immature students, even criminal students, with rejection and frustration, loving and loathing, pity and terror, and ultimately with bracing courage. Dr. Johnson defined a second marriage as “the triumph of hope over experience.” The serene wisdom Ms. Spector offers in these poems in the aftermath of classroom nightmares makes it a good definition of teaching, too. —Sander Zulauf, Editor Emeritus, Journal of New Jersey Poets, & Poet Laureate, Diocese of Newark.

English teachers expect a certain amount of drama, but Donna Spector’s Lessons is especially rich in the comedy and tragedy of high school. Struggling to keep order in the classroom, luring students into literature, directing plays and a literary magazine, watching students navigate the chaotic halls of adolescence, Spector, a graduate of Berkeley’s hippie days, can be as provocative as her students. Outside the classroom, she’s the playwright wearing glittering red heels (paid for by her principal) to her Off-Broadway opening night. Quirky, witty, tender poems that remind us how challenging and rewarding education (on both sides of the desk) can be. —Mary Makofske, Tractio, Eating Nasturtiums

Donna Spector’s book of poems, Lessons, takes us on a journey, as we follow her from her early days as a teacher through the numerous classrooms she inhabited in the years in between. Spector celebrates both her failures and triumphs as a teacher. What we learn in Lessons is just how much love and perseverance go into creating a great teacher. What a gem of a book! —Maria Mazziotti Gillan, The Silence in an Empty House, Ancestors’ Song, What We Pass On: Collected Poems

In the Land of Gods: Poems by Donna Spector

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In the Land of Gods is where Donna Spector finds herself, like a character out of an Ovidian myth metamorphosed into a creature of song, singing of “what is past, or passing, or to come.” In every one of these celebrations of Greece, the presence of the past is felt in the present moment as we are taken on a journey through the marvelous intricacies of a poetic sensibility that is alive to all that life offers and takes away. In the process, as readers, we become inhabitants of her world, joining her in a mythic—and utterly real—land of gods. —Paul Kane, Work Life

In the Land of Gods will bedazzle readers with luxurious lapis and gold. Donna Spector dizzies all our senses describing her beloved Greece where “…the gods are more eternal than the hotel’s morning excuses for no hot water.” In dramatic monologues, Odysseus visits the narrator’s house in New Jersey, “Medea speaks to herself…,” and Orpheus tells Eurydice how much he loves her. When you read this collection, you’ll wish you were Greek also and may even tell people you are. —Donna Reis No Passing Zone

From the first line of the first poem, Donna Spector’s In the Land of Gods transports us across oceans, across time, across cultures. And yet, in these poems, we immediately feel present at her side in the warmth and beauty, adventure and stories, discovering “our common language” (as she writes in “Athens, 1990”). Donna Spector’s poems dazzle and dance on the page, delighting all the senses. —Jean LeBlanc, Ancient Songs of Us (Aqueduct Press, 2020)

In the Land of Gods, Spector is a visitor passionate to melt into Greek landscape, history, and myths, where she finds metamorphosis still alive. An agnostic facing at every turn ikons, statues, paintings of saints, Jesus, and Greek gods, Spector tells stories of, and to, Greeks she encounters, celebrating tales of “love/and loss, so familiar they are always new.” The language can be dazzling as Greek sunlight, delicious as the wine and food she shares with fellow travelers and residents. With the added spice of humor, Spector provides a feast to savor. —Mary Makofske, World Enough, and Time (Kelsay, 2017)

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