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Cover of The City of the Olesha Fruit by Norman Dubie
June 1979

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The City of the Olesha Fruit

Norman Dubie

In this collection of poems, Dubie presents us with reflection on age, death, familial bonds, various cultural figures, and everyday life that transcends its pastoral surface-value, diverging into fantastically strange tangents. He takes us everywhere from the rural country of America and Northern Europe to the Great Wall of China, finding commonalities in all walks of life. He accomplishes this not only within different locales, but also through a myriad of eras — the Renaissance, World War II, modern-day, and a million unnamed, quiet moments in between. 

Through his lyricism, he paints characters that are at once intriguing and tragic, such as when he captures the ways in which the elderly relate to the young: “So you have read your first book. Sewed a dress for/The doll. The very young and old are best at finding/Little things to do. The world is jealous of us, you know?”

In one of several instances of meta-poetics, Dubie shows us how a poet bends dreamscape to his own purpose: “A citizen never dies, he just wakes/One morning without his legs, and then he is given/A city of his very own making:/In this way his existence narrows/While expanding like a diary ... ”

If you’re looking for a collection of poems that takes you in many surprising directions, you’d do yourself a great service by reading "The City of the Olesha Fruit."

Description from Superstition Review on Goodreads.


Norman Dubie is Regents' Professor of English at Arizona State University.