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Rented Violin, The
Karen Whalley
$24.00 hardbound
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Rented Violin, The  (hardbound)
Karen Whalley

Karen Whalley quietly explodes the façade of ordinary daily life. At the heart of her work is a yearning for spiritual meaning, which manifests itself in a rare clarity of thought and emotion. Deceptively simple of surface, these poems delve into experiences of love and grief, rendering her findings in language that is luminous and beautiful.

(also available in paperback)
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For Rented Violin, The, Karen Whalley


"Most first books of poetry are hardly more than a delightful nosegay of early spring blooms. Here is one, however, that fills us with the deeper delights of a bouquet gathered in a later and more mature season. Karen Whalley's poems are made from humble material: the quotidian realities of ordinary, stoical people who have constructed lives from mortgages and childrearing, shopping malls and interstate motels, doctor's appointments and cutting the grass. What Whalley sees beneath the surfaces of those lives is the terrible price of foregoing beauty. Her feel for the unconscious agony of hurt and longing that so many people carry about with them reminds us of James Wright. Like him she has mastered the art of unpacking, in simple language and delicate metaphor, the yearning for transformation that is at the center of our human spirituality. 'Make it beautiful / And it will save you,' she says in the title poem, and that is what she does. I am stunned by the wisdom of these poems, and pierced by their heart-lurching beauty."—Kate Daniels

"Karen Whalley's first book of poems is a study of invention, not in the conventional sense, in which something new is created out of nothing, but in the way a frugal person good with a needle might make over a dress. The underlying materials remain constant, but find new shape and expression through carefully chosen additions and shifts of vision. Most of Whalley's writing itself is simple, with few frills of complicated words or pretentious rhetoric. This is essential; it draws the eye all the more to sudden twists of language and those moments when the reader realizes she is completely immersed in a new reality. Whalley spirals inside the body, inside the argument, inside the grains of our lives to describe them as if the damages and the joys were another world entirely, a world in which the narrative could be any of the past lives or dreams of the made-over dress, or the rented violin… Whalley's book is indeed a charm to discover, a collection of layers not to shed, but to unfold and refold for someone else to find."—Pleiades

"The best of these poems imitate unfiltered thought, moving with no apparent effort from the immediate... to the imponderable... Their tone is frank, unguarded, and elegant; when she arrives at a transcendent moment, this poet is able to say more than she knows, and far more than her speaker's situation implies. The results can be superb."—The Virginia Quarterly Review

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