Open Shutters

Open Shutters

by Mary Jo Salter

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Overview

Mary Jo Salter’s sparkling new collection, Open Shutters, leads us into a world where things are often not what they seem. In the first poem, “Trompe l’Oeil,” the shadow-casting shutters on Genoese houses are made of paint only, an “open lie.” And yet “Who needs to be correct / more often than once a day? / Who needs real shadow more than play?”

Open Shutters also calls to mind the lens of a camera—in the villanelle “School Pictures” or in the stirring sequence “In the Guesthouse,” which, inspired by photographs of a family across three generations, offers at once a social history of America and a love story.

Darkness and light interact throughout the book—in poems about September 11; about a dog named Shadow; about a blind centenarian who still pretends to read the paper; about a woman shaken by the death of her therapist. A section of light verse highlights the wit and grace that have long distinguished Salter’s most serious work.

Fittingly, the volume fools the eye once more by closing with “An Open Book,” in which a Muslim family praying at a funeral seek consolation in the pages formed by their upturned palms.

Open Shutters
is the achievement of a remarkable poet, whose concerns and stylistic range continue to grow, encompassing ever larger themes, becoming ever more open.


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307539366
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/13/2013
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 96
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Mary Jo Salter was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and grew up in Detroit and Baltimore. She was educated at Harvard and Cambridge Universities and worked as a staff editor at The Atlantic Monthly and as poetry editor of The New Republic. A vice president of the Poetry Society of America, she is also a coeditor of The Norton Anthology of Poetry. In addition to her five poetry collections, she is the author of a children’s book, The Moon Comes Home. She is Emily Dickinson Senior Lecturer at Mount Holyoke College and lives with her family in Amherst, Massachusetts.

Read an Excerpt

TROMPE-L’OEIL


All over Genoa
you see them: windows with open shutters.
Then the illusion shatters.

But that’s not true. You knew
the shutters were merely painted on.
You knew it time and again.

The claim of the painted shutter
that it ever shuts the eye
of the window is an open lie.

You find its shadow-latches strike
the wall at a single angle,
like the stuck hands of a clock.

Who needs to be correct
more often than twice a day?
Who needs real shadow more than play?

Inside the house, an endless
supply of clothes to wash.
On an outer wall it’s fresh

paint hung out to dry–
shirttails flapping on a frieze
unruffled by any breeze,

like the words pinned to this line.
And the foreign word is a lie:
that second “l” in “l’oeil”

which only looks like an “l,” and is silent.

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