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Expert Terrain, Poems by Diane Schenker

Expert Terrain by Diane Schenker explores embracing one’s fears and how looking carefully and directly at the world intersperses dark places with sunlit small beauties and a joy in being as we each find our way along life’s path.

Sample Poems by Diane Schenker

“Diane Schenker’s marvelous debut collection is, above all, great fun. The book has a fine performative energy to it—unsurprising, as much of the poet’s life experience has been centered on drama and the performing arts, but the conjunction of this energy with her restless intellect and adventurous forays into unusual subjects and forms are what distinguishes this collection from many another. With great skill, she employs distinctly different registers of language—scientific, casual, poetically formal, among others-- in meditations on the most ordinary of subjects, such as cleaning the kitchen, looking at birds, cooking, eating, getting out of bed. She often dives into rarely used or invented poetic forms with imaginative breadth and brio. Her wit is sly, as in the poem, ‘Double Black Diamond,’ in which she wryly muses on the possible death that might await her in the difficult descent. The interrogation of the act of perception provides a motif she constantly revisits in many of these poems. The artistry involved here is prodigious, and, in the end, renders much of the ordinary extraordinary, and extraordinarily fresh.”—Sidney Wade

“Diane Schenker’s first book of poems, Expert Terrain, is turbo-charged, animate, alive in the stuff of the everyday, her every day, as in ‘the white tiles leached lightless serving up….a song of disuse.’ An amalgam of styles and subjects, experiments and lists, we learn how things are and have been, squandered and savored, in a richly lived life, as in: ‘milky, singular, sticky and sweet,/viscous and runny, leafy, discreet…’ Her terrain is made up of art and ideas, questions and considerations. Yes, there are trout and trees, real and imaginary landscapes, but the key pleasure in this collection, like that of the Frank O’Hara this poet invokes on the first page, is her acute presence, her mastery in documenting what it is to be alive in her skin in vivid and memorable of-the-moment-ness.”—Elaine Sexton

“In Expert Terrain, Diane Schenker’s poetic flaneuring is full of unexpected proprioceptions that are as arresting as they are beautiful! Poem after poem, she springs the trap and lets fly! It is she, Marcel Proust, Frank O’Hara, and the reader over the steam table and out of sight!”—Scott Hightower

“Diane Schenker’s Expert Terrain betrays a frightening familiarity with the most dangerous ski slopes, but also with that most dangerous of human endeavors, the writing of poems. In pieces which display a deep familiarity with the chasms of Gerard Manley Hopkins as well as Frank O’Hara’s canyons, she demonstrates the skill and sprezzatura required to navigate those daunting landscapes. Here is ingenuity, formal invention, shuddering fear and dazzling wit. What a wonderful debut!”—Lee Rossi

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