Bestiary (Red Hen Press, 2009)

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“The passionate, yet controlled, third volume from Paschen (Infidelities) pursues the likenesses between human beings and other sorts of beasts: Paschen watches domestic animals, visits zoos and backyards, and records the instincts that animate her, as lover, mother, daughter and citizen. Husband and wife “share a wedded habitat”; a mother breastfeeding her daughter “would like to buzz/ into the orchid of your ear,” while a manatee looks to the poet like “a mistaken mermaid,/ on the brink of vanishing from sight.” Paschen offers sonnets, villanelles and even a ghazal, in which butterflies in an exhibit “invent a sky beneath the dome.” Readers might remember not the moments of pure description, but the difficult emotions Paschen describes in her poems about marital love, motherhood and finally a daughter’s grief. The urn with her father’s ashes dominates one poem, and her mother’s career as a ballet dancer takes over another: “Mother, when I was young, I watched/ you from the wings and saw the sweat,” Paschen writes, saw “your gasp/ for breath. I thought it was your last.” If we are animals, Paschen suggests, we are the animals who look hard at one another, the animals who remember and who mourn. — Publishers Weekly, January 2009”

“With Bestiary Elise Paschen comes into her own strength as a poet, taking on the two great subjects of lyric poetry, love and death. This volume beautifully contains its opposites: it is at once the story of a young couple building their family and the story of a daughter losing her parents, as well as a more mythic undertaking, a tale of the animals who symbolize our psyches and seem to foreshadow events in our human lives. One feels Paschen’s Osage roots in these poems where she makes the deepest emotions palpable through her stunning craft. In Bestiary Elise Paschen creates a world at once recognizable and strange, lyrical and fierce, gentle and bold.” – Molly Peacock

“Elise Paschen’s themes are human and essential: love and gestation and birth, the decline of parents in old age -- and in her skilled hands, these matters seem far from ordinary. Often her poems engage us with stories, some taken from myth -- Leda beset by Zeus in swan’s clothing, a mad Irish princess tamed by a harp player. Others seem drawn from experience, whether actual or imaginary: a woman thrown to the ground by a whirlwind, a family rescuing a fallen nestling, an aged and afflicted mother recalling her youth as a dancer in Venice, a daughter transporting a father’s ashes through airport security. Here are powerful lines, gracefully woven into whole poems, positioned to last. Certain of them will haunt you. Read the lovely and mysterious “Monarch,” first poem in the book, and right away you’ll see what I mean.” – X. J. Kennedy

Infidelities (Story Line Press, 1996), winner of the Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize.

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“Somewhere in the family romance lies, each of us suspects, the secret or mystery of erotic power, the source of sexual energy to which, with slight but significant variations, we again and again return. Within the givens of familial, racial, gender and class history lie the materials out of which we must make ourselves. Elise Paschen’s Infidelities explores these themes in powerful, striking ways. Paschen is as haunted as everyone else; out of this she has made a haunting book.” – Frank Bidart

“These poems are passionate, lyrical episodes of precise and dangerous beauty. I’m proud to welcome this very accomplished first book of poetry to the world.” – Joy Harjo

“Elise Paschen’s poems draw upon a dream life which can deeply tincture the waking world. Some of the most compelling – ‘Diving,’ for instance, or “Moving House’ – have the qualities of dream. But there are many kinds of imaginative acts in this collection, as when the poet, in ‘Oklahoma Home,’ magically and movingly enters the consciousness of another person in another time and place.” – Richard Wilbur

Poetry Speaks (Sourcebooks MediaFusion, 2001) edited by Elise Paschen and Rebekah Presson Mosby

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“The definitive anthology” — Publishers Weekly

“This book has the potential to draw more readers to poetry than any collection in years.” — Publishers Weekly

“It speaks volumes for Poetry Speaks that by the time you’re done, your biggest problem may be that you wish there were more.”
— Wall Street Journal

“The most ambitious, innovative poetry project to be published in years.” — Quality Paperback Book Club

Poetry Speaks Expanded (Sourcebooks MediaFusion, 2007) edited by Elise Paschen and Rebekah Presson Mosby

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“This grand immersion in poetry follows the best-selling Poetry Speaks (2001) and includes a never-before-published and truly thrilling recording of James Joyce reading “Anna Livia Plurabelle” from Finnegans Wake. Book and CDs work beautifully together, kindling deeper appreciation for the transmuting power of poetry, a practice of discipline, skill, and magic.”— Booklist

“This volume will continue to prove a playground for poetry lovers and a spark for any literature class.”— School Library Journal

“Reluctant poetry readers may find themselves drawn to the printed page by the spoken work, and poetry fans are likely to find much to love here.” — Publishers Weekly

Poetry Speaks to Children (Sourcebooks MediaFusion, 2005) edited by Elise Paschen

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“…one of the most anticipated audio-poetry releases of the fall” — The Wall Street Journal

“This entertaining dip into many archival recordings will likely be a family treasure” — Publishers Weekly

“…an excellent introduction to a whole lot of poetry, from Shakespeare to Nikki Giovanni, from Kipling to Naomi Shihab Nye. The poems are short and long, rhymed and not, famous and little-known. Every single one of them is appealing…. The accompanying CD is a wonder…Sure to please teachers, parents and children who might not yet know how much they need poetry, and how much they will love it.” — Kirkus Reviews

Poetry Speaks Who I Am (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2010) edited by Elise Paschen

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Poetry Speaks Who I Am is an energetic, visceral collection of poems for that point in life that is at the same time angst-ridden and incredibly exciting. Filled with more than 100 remarkable selections from a wide variety of contemporary and classic poets, this journey of discovery at last brings the vital connection between poetry and the early teen years to full fruition.

Poetry in Motion (W. W. Norton & Company, 1996) edited by Elise Paschen, Molly Peacock and Neil Neches

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This rich gathering emanates from the immensely popular placards displayed in the subways and buses of New York City. Starting in October 1992, when Poetry in Motion first appeared, and continuing through August 1997, here are the first hundred poems of the program. The selections, ranging from Sappho to Sylvia Plath, from W.H. Auden to the ninth-century Chinese poet Chu Chen Po, were carefully chosen, after hundreds of hours of reading by the three dedicated editors.

Poetry in Motion Coast to Coast (W. W. Norton & Company, 2002) edited by Elise Paschen and Brett Fletcher Lauer

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Originated in 1992 in New York City, the Poetry in Motion program traveled to Chicago and appeared in twelve cities nationwide from Baltimore to Houston; Portland, Oregon; and Los Angeles. The wonderfully diverse poets represented include Sherman Alexie, William Blake, Gwendolyn Brooks, Billy Collins, Langston Hughes, and Pablo Neruda among many others.



Photo credit: Judith Weinstein