Every Root a Branch

By Elizabeth Rees

Subjects: Poetry
Imprint: Distribution Partners
Paperback : 9781930337817, 75 pages, December 2014

Table of contents

I. Hard Characters
Hanina, After Lebanon
Childhood House
The 75-Year-Old Sabbath Queen
By My Husband’s Book
Halving a Pear
In Return
For Heaven’s Sake
People of the Word
Public Lives
At the End of the Tunnel
Checking Myself In
Balancing China
Two-Year-Old’s Mantra on the 3rd Avenue Bus
Man Weeping in a Chair
The Bible Promised
Last Rendezvous
Love and Death
Multiple Personality
Unfinished Grief
In the Quiet Room
Returning from Egypt
Landscape With Snow
Description of a Jew
At the Altar
First Intifada
Empty Israeli Bus Stations
Against the Dark
Sounding Fields
Sinai Desert Walk
Taking a Bath
The Old Grindleville Road
Son of God’s Right Hand at McLean Hospital
Your Second Sabbath
Shaking the Snow Globe
About the Author


Poems that express the wonder and challenge of being human in a conflicted world.

Elizabeth Rees is the author of three award-winning chapbooks: Balancing China, Now That We're Here, and Tilting Gravity. Her poetry has appeared in the Partisan Review, Prairie Schooner, the Kenyon Review, and Agni, among many other journals. She has taught at Harvard University Extension School, Howard University, and Johns Hopkins University, and has served as a consulting writer and editor to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Smithsonian Museums' Travelling Exhibitions, and PBS.


"Rees's poetic imagination, imagistic and psychologically honed, projects back into history, as far back as the myths of origin—and these poems, weighted with mattering, give a picture of the narrative behind our daily projections: longings, sorrows, retributions, and redemptions. We feel a poet doing the poet's hard work, processing what is. " — Sven Birkerts

"Elizabeth Rees's poems project the bare inherent tattering of memory reknitting the current with ferocious loyalty & precise quick lilt: His hands hold his head / because his mind can't see / why his eyes should weep ('Man Weeping in a Chair'). They are lucid in agitation: There isn't time… / No, that's wrong, / there are buckets of time. / Exploding takes forever ('Saboteurs'). With discerning detail & achingly tender triage—frontal, tough, sweet—they dig out the live among the dead, having blessed the bones. Enlivened, we emerge as the poems do: …a cave opens / and we wander out, squinting / from the heavy slope of light ('Sinai Desert Walk'). " — Olga Broumas

"No doubt that Elizabeth Rees is a poet of the world—commanding a range of subjects, replete with cultural and religious references, as she travels the terrains of our globe, utilizing the language of poetry as truth, never severing social consciousness from private mediations on family bonds, from which the book takes its title: My knees smeared with mulch, I tilled / until every stone was turned, until the fault was deep enough to bury / all the seeds that could have borne / a son. Weeds will be my daughters / and every root a branch. Reflective, fearless, and unrelenting with love, these poems pulsate to the music of formal poetry, while simultaneously liberating the vernacular to express the wonder and challenge of being human in a conflicted world, invoking poems of toughness and glass-like fragility. " — Judith Harris