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Hermaphroditus in America

Julia Older

Hermaphroditus in America

A consummate storyteller, Julia Older captures the saga of America reinventing itself in this remarkable book-length poem. From Serendipity Sarah's jive birthing to the MBA Sufi Master's closing prophetic parables, Hermaphroditus embraces America. Born as one, the male and female persona separate and go their own ways. Herman (whose alter ego is the Greek trickster god Hermes) enters the 21st century delivering messages to the World Bank and corporate America. Hermione, who is more of an earth goddess, takes to the streets as a reporter, stopping at soup kitchens and shelters to interview the homeless.

Through a colorful array of characters and forms (chants, pantoums, sonnets, dialogue, free verse), Older takes us on a multi-textured and many-layered odyssey. She has read and discussed the poignant "homeless" poems and popular "Bowwowski" review over NH Public Radio's "The Front Porch," and was videotaped reading excerpts as guest poet at "What Poetry Might Do," a 9/11 presentation at St Anselm College.



Sleepless, they hold out their bowls for soup
huddled in clouds of midnight steam,
dark creatures with one hope,
sustenance ladled in a hot bright stream
by an angel of mercy who smiles and stoops,
haloed in street light as if in a dream.
Sleepless, they hold out their bowls for soup
huddled in clouds of midnight steam.
Hunkered under the grate, they look up
but only their white bowls may be seen
floating like stars in a telescope,
numbered and recorded, without name.
Sleepless, they hold out their bowls for soup
huddled in clouds of midnight steam.

Hermaphroditus In America begins with a Prologue and is divided into Six Parts (each titled with a quote from Shakespeare's "The Ages of Man"). An Epilogue and Notes follow the poem."Sleeping Hermaphrodite" on the front cover (Hellenistic Sculpture 2nd BCE, Cushion & Mattress by Bernini, Louvre) is reproduced through the permission of Eric Lessing/Art Resource of New York.

 Julia Older
 $16.00 (160 pp) Quality Trade Paperback
 Appledore Books, 2000
 ISBN 0962716294
 Prompt shipment
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"Hermaphroditus in America is a tour de force!"
-- Andrei Codrescu
"A mind blowing journey. . . Complex, poignant, and satirical. . . it feels like a work that has resided in an artist's heart."
-- Stacey Milbauer, Boston Sunday Globe
"The Odyssey and ecstasy. . . Abracadabra and amen. It is philosohy and, eerily, prophesy. This is the weirdest book I've read since William Burroughs Naked Lunch. I like it. I like reading it aloud, listening for truth and humor."
-- Rebecca Rule, The Sunday Monitor
"The luscious poetry of Julia Older will most likely be ignored, and maybe even reviled. Older seeks to find unity by way of the poetic. But like everything else, the market society has seduced the poets, swallowed poetry, made it its own. Older uses devastating satire. . .Bowwowski is a hilarious send up of [a] famed drunken smut poet. But "Hermaphroditus" is more than a political polemic. It is great poetry, and like all great poetry, language and music suffuse the narrative with meaning. Her courage and unwavering commitment to the truth are admirable."
-- J. Patrick Coolican, The Keene Sentinel
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