Judith Roche Poetry


Wisdon of the Body by Judith Roche

Wisdom of the Body, Black Heron Press, 2007
Link to Black Heron
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Judith Roche wins 2007 American Book Award for Wisdom of the Body.

Wisdom of the Body is a meditation in poetry on our bodies and how they change, on the central mystery of being caught in time. It is about sex, death, living, and choices brought about by experience.

There are poems about Down Syndrome and open heart surgery, about how flower gardens grow, how we deal with sorrow, and how the heart functions.

There is a series of poems on the life cycle of Pacific Northwest salmon, and poems from the libretto of a musical piece by noted composer Janice Gitech, Navigating the Light, which was written for and with incarcerated children in Washington State.

What the Critics are Saying:

"In her luminous third collection, Roche’s subject is the body as a cultural and spiritual as well as physical form. In the magnificent 'Credo,' she lists what sustains her: 'I believe in the cave paintings at Lascaux,/ The beauty of the clavicle,/ The journey of the salmon...I believe in the wisdom of the body.' That wisdom isn't without pain, and the book is haunted by the deaths that occur when 'Someone will come at the end/ and tell you a story so beautiful/ you will rise out of yourself/ and go into it,' as she almost did, she tells us in an autobiographical poem about nearly drowning. Yet the body’s wisdom is expanded rather than limited by death, which enjoins us to more vivid life: 'The mouth knows the taste of its own tongue/ hungers for savor, makes meaning/ of sound, trying to name truth.' This is a powerful and courageous book, full of lyric intensity and crystal-sharp imagery."
- Patricia Monaghan, Booklist

"The poems in Wisdom of the Body are extravagant, ferocious, and humble because life is. Judith Roche's witness is appropriate to the intensity of its subjects; it is human without being excessively personal. There are dense window-breaking poems here, small kamikaze bright-eyed birds shattering the sentimentality of our collective slumber. Roche sings the paradox of celebration and wonder in the midst of terrible suffering and invites us into the moment’s living slipperiness. She guides us into a world of surprise where mortal passion defies and trumps the infinite masks of fear and denial. 'Hold me close to the holy. I am driven forward into unknown lands.' Please read this book."
- Tom Jay

"These poems are formal, elegant, majestic. At the same time they are driven by a wild passion, 'the beauty of pure pluck.' Steeped in biology, the study of life, Judith Roche's poems come close to saying the Unspeakable."
- Sharon Doubiago

First Fish First People

First Fish First People, Salmon Tales of the North Pacific Rim, University of Washington Press, 1998
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"This is a book of wonder and amazement, it re-teaches us our own geography, leaps silvery and fresh like the salmon, which is its subject.
Robert Hass"





Myrrh Judith Roche

Myrrh, My Life as a Screamer, Black Heron Press, 1994
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"Through realms of pattern and scatter, dream and rebellion, this fervent book travels on supple lines and disciplined focus. The Helen sequence alone achieves memorable beauty when the poet finds splendor in the own myth “My blood crystallizes into stone. I am form for flames."
- James Broughton

From the introduction: "Roche follows the orders of the poem rather than making the poem bend to her will. When one realizes how profoundly Myrrh comes from the practice on all levels, how successfully she pulls off one of the riskiest of endeavors, one begins to grasp...a highly original, courageous, mature, beautiful singularity of Voice, Theme, Sound, Image, etc., making up a brilliant whole."
- Sharon Doubiago

"Judith Roche remembers, as few poets today do, poetry's ancestral roots in myth, magic and melos. Like myrrh, these poems are bitter, erotic, a potent female gift. Recalling the 'science between the notes' that could signify either rapture or the silencing of the witch, who is everywoman, the poems rise at the book’s close to the long, long-repressed scream that can finally crest 'in pure exuberance.'"
- Alicia Ostriker

Ghosts, Empty Bowl Press, 1984
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"These poems are a woman’s journey. They open the spaces of the North, which persists thru jungle dreams and the hot edges of cities–as our fierce solitude persists thru all our loving."
- Diane diPrima

"Magical witch and cave poems of a vivid imbiber of the strong wines and winds of our time."
- Meridal LeSueur

Judith Roche
178 Lake Dell Ave
Seattle, WA 98122
206 329-4687

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