Inside the Storm I Want to Touch the Tremble

Inside this debut collection, girlhood’s dangers echo, transmuted, in the poet’s fears for her son. A body just discovering the vastness of “want’s new acreage” is humbled by chronic illness. Epithalamion turns elegy. But this world that so often seems capricious in its cruelty also shelters apple orchards, glass museums, schoolchildren, century-old sharks; “there’s no accounting for / all we want to save, no names.”  

Oliver’s polyphonic gathering of speakers includes lovers and saints, painters and dead poets, a hawk and a mother. In varied forms (ghazals and prose poems, dialogues and erasures, bref double and Golden Shovel, among others) these poems bear witness to and seek reprieve from disasters at once commonplace and terrifying. “I can’t surface for every scalpel slice, / I need a dreamy estuary present,” she writes. 

Stumbling toward joy across time and space, these poems hum with fear and desire, bewildering loss, and love’s lush possibilities. 
Carolyn Oliver’s poems appear in The Massachusetts Review, Indiana Review, Cincinnati Review, Radar Poetry, Shenandoah, Beloit Poetry Journal, 32 Poems, Southern Indiana Review, Cherry Tree, Plume, DIALOGIST, The National Poetry Review, and in many other journals. Carolyn is the winner of the E. E. Cummings Prize from the NEPC, the Goldstein Prize from Michigan Quarterly Review, the Writer’s Block Prize in Poetry, and the Frank O’Hara Prize from The Worcester Review. She lives in Massachusetts with her family. 
Table of Contents:

Foreword by Matthew Olzmann 

My Son Asks if I Would Rather Live in a House Infested by Bees or a House Infested by Koalas 

Eve Grinds Pigments for Artemisia Gentileschi 
To the man who tried to grab my face through the car’s open window 
The Eider Keepers 
Saint Agnes Meets a Hawk on the River’s Edge 
Reading Szymborska under a Harvest Moon 
Dead Reckoning 
Hip Check 
Eve Condoles with the Rokeby Venus after the Suffragette Slashing 
Self-Portrait as Cedar Chest 
In Shaker Heights They Culled the Elms 

Eve Studies Cezanne’s The Basket of Apples 
Hymn in My Sickness 
Geography Lessons 
Spectral Evidence 
Saint Ursula Advises Emily Dickinson 
Do Not Fail to Yield 
Eve Makes a Target for William Tell 

A Valediction For Mourning 
Track Listing: 2008 
April Ghazal 
The Horse I Would Have Chosen 
Somewhere a shark 
In Your Copy of Akhmatova’s Poems 
Epithalamion with Missing Groom 
First Wedding Dress 
The Anchorite to Rising Seas 
Listening to Ralph Vaughan Williams on a Tuesday Night 
In Another Life, You Live 
John Donne and Leonard Cohen at the End of the World 

n miles from Wall Drug 
Soon Enough 
Eve and Psyche Arrive for a Shift at the Mirror Factory 
The Glass Museum 
After the Exhibit 
Cigarettes after Sex 
Questions about Bisexuals, #4 
Love Poem with Fiddlehead Ferns 
An Aubade 

The Public Is Invited to See the Yew Trees in Full Fruit at This Time 
On a school morning in mid-October 
No Names 
Horse Latitudes 
Nine Minutes in June 
Dear Dr. Park, it’s June again 
Playroom Canticle 
Still Life with Lost Tooth and Cooling Universe 
Eve and Johnny Appleseed Sift through Ohio Pomace 


Praise and Reviews:Inside the Storm I Want to Touch the Tremble is a marvelous book. It is at once both personal and political, searing and tender. On one page, these poems might skillfully speak to (and through) art and artists across centuries; next, they might tell a new story of Eve, contemplate the complications of America, or deftly chart the mysteries of the human spirit. Through it all, each poem is an event, and each event feels timeless and timely.”
—Matthew Olzmann, author ofContradictions in the Design

“In her marvelous debut collection, Carolyn Oliver brings the reader to the garden—the literal garden stalked by wasps, the metaphorical garden where Szymborska’s Polish consonants are ‘bunched like root vegetables’—a lush space of sweetness and growth but also danger. Oliver gives us the textures of a life, and the precariousness: the tremble, the crush, the dissolve, the fizzle. These are poems of the body and poems of the earth. What did I do when I finished this book? I immediately began it again.”
—Maggie Smith, author of Goldenrod and Good Bones

"Wunderkammer and honey-laden hive, Carolyn Oliver’s Inside the Storm I Want to Touch the Tremble is a spectacular feat of craft and wonder. Within the finely articulated fury of each poem, we feel 'time turn nimbus' and, dizzied, delight in the strange splendors offered here: the body—tender, desirous, wracked with pain, pulsed with pleasure, undone and born again through time—and its threats of memory and grave knowledge; the promise and peril of beloved others intimate, familiar, strange, and lost, perhaps regained; doubt, failure, and the exercise of faith, the poems their own forms of query and prayer. Oliver’s is a voice we’ve been waiting to hear, her music tuned to worlds we suspect, perhaps sound, but never quite touch. What else to call this music but alchemy? O, how these poems gleam—bright gems!—with skies 'of beaten gold.'"
—Julie Phillips Brown, author of The Adjacent Possible