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The Most Beautiful Room in the World, Poems by Carolyn Raphael
The sharp forms of Carolyn Raphael’s The Most Beautiful Room in the World bring forth vivid narratives, graceful meditations, and rich excursions into history and art. This book has many beautiful rooms within.
“There is much to admire in Carolyn Raphael’s new book: the sweep of its subjects, from ancient Rome to the Renaissance to the stylistic conventions of e-mail (one turns the page eager to see what will next engage her lively intelligence); the range of forms and subtle craft, as in the sudden and thematically perfect shift to exact rhymes in the last stanza of ‘Euphemisms’; and most of all the compassion and emotional intensity that come forcefully off the pages of ‘Roll Call,’ ‘The Judas Kiss,’ ‘Responding to Condolences,’ and so many others. Welcome to the infinite riches of The Most Beautiful Room in the World.”— Michael Palma
“Many of Carolyn Raphael’s poems range over art, music, and history with solid but gracefully worn learning; others pay moving tribute to family and friends, and several celebrate the courage and gallantry of the dying. The delights are many, not least the poet’s confident use of fixed forms as well as strong, flexible blank verse, and free verse rendered musical by a metrically trained ear. But the core of this work, the poet’s focus, is clearly the human being caught in the act of living . Whether the poet gives us a woman slipping into the gray fog of dementia, a conductor going deaf, or a Venetian courtesan reflecting on her life, we know these people, we believe in their circumstances, and we learn something valuable from our encounter with them in Carolyn Raphael’s crisp, articulate poems.”— Rhina Espaillat
“The technical assurance displayed in every line of Carolyn Raphael’s long-awaited first collection yields an unfailing poise and tact that quickly convinces us we are in good hands. Time after time her poems lead us to a conclusion that we realize has become ours as well. Such accomplishment is not incidental.”—Charles Martin
“Carolyn Raphael’s last name summons the Italian landscape and history—replete with emperors and assassins, painters and plotters—that figures so richly in many of her poems. Raphael’s dramatic monologues invite both direct and indirect comparison with those of Robert Browning, and one can well imagine the master’s pleasure in the pupil’s skills if he were able to read ‘Il Castrato.’ All this is not to say that Raphael’s voice is antiquarian; she can quickly range from the past to a depiction of life in a contemporary nursing home or to a witty sonnet composed in the argot of email. If her aim here has been to furnish ‘the most beautiful room in the world,’ she has succeeded wonderfully.”—R. S. Gwynn
Carolyn Raphael taught for more than three decades in the English department at Queensborough Community College, CUNY. She is the author of two college textbooks, published by Macmillan: Rhetorical Reader for ESL Writers (1983, with Elaine Goran Newman) and The Writing Reader (1986). She edited, with Lawrence J. Raphael and Miriam R. Valdovinos, Language and Cognition, Plenum Press (1984). Her poems have appeared in journals including Cumberland Poetry Review, The Formalist, Iambs & Trochees, Orbis, Pivot, and Rattapallax. Diagrams of Bittersweet, a chapbook, was published in 1997 by Somers Rocks Press. The Most Beautiful Room in the World is her first book of poetry.
ISBN: 978-1934999851, 108 pages, $18.00