The light of the world A memoir

Elizabeth Alexander, 1962-

Large print - 2015

Acclaimed poet Elizabeth Alexander finds herself at an existential crossroads after the sudden death of her husband. Channeling her poetic sensibilities into a rich, lucid prose, she tells a love story that is, itself, a story of loss. Reflecting on the beauty of her married life, the trauma of her husband's death, and the solace found in caring for her two teenage sons, Alexander universalizes a very personal quest for meaning and acceptance in the wake of loss.

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Subjects
Published
Waterville, Maine : Thorndike Press 2015.
Edition
Large print edition
Language
English
Physical Description
255 pages (large print) ; 23 cm
ISBN
9781410482228
1410482227
Main Author
Elizabeth Alexander, 1962- (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Poet Alexander (Crave Radiance: New and Selected Poems, 1990–2010, 2010) tells us at the outset that this memoir about the sudden death of her husband "is not a tragedy but rather a love story." Professor of African American studies at Yale and author of The Black Interior (2004), an essay collection about African American art, Alexander gained global visibility when she presented her poem, "Praise Song for the Day," at President Obama's first inauguration. Now in this exquisitely distilled remembrance, she recounts her marriage to exuberantly creative Ficre Ghebreyesus, a painter, chef, gardener, and passionate reader. After growing up in war-torn Eritrea in East Africa, he eventually made his way to New Haven, Connecticut, where he and Alexander experienced lightning-strike love at first sight. As Alexander describes, with spellbinding grace, their vital bond, devotion to beauty, and joy in their two sons, her wonder and gratitude for their time together rise up from the page like the scent of the flowers Ghebreyesus planted for her, the brightness of the colors he loved, and the music of their family conversations. Alexander also writes with thoughtful candor of the shock of her husband's sudden death, the fog of grief, her spiritual dilemmas, and her gradual emergence back into the light. A radiant book of love's everlastingness and art's infinite sustenance. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Expect truth and beauty in this heartrending memoir from poet Alexander, a Pulitzer Prize finalist who recited her "Praise Song for the Day" at President Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration. Here, after her husband's sudden death at 49, she reflects on their life together and the process of raising her sons alone. With a 40,000-copy first printing; look for a New Yorker serial. [Page 63]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Alexander's marriage to her husband, Ficre, was a great love, one filled with his painting, her poetry, their cooking, and an extended family all over the world. When Ficre dies suddenly, the life she has built with him and their two sons in New Haven, CT, seems to disintegrate. This gorgeous, shimmering account from a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in poetry is an homage to the 15-year partnership the author and her husband shared. Though Alexander's story is deeply personal, readers who have experienced love and loss will relate to it easily. VERDICT While it's impossible to avoid comparisons to Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking, this work is set apart by the fluid translation of Alexander's poetic ability into sentences so beautiful they beg to be reread. [See Memoir, 2/18/15; ow.ly/MBCgC.]—Erin Shea (ES) [Page 120]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Alexander's marriage to her husband, Ficre, was a great love, one filled with his painting, her poetry, their cooking, and an extended family all over the world. When Ficre dies suddenly, the life she has built with him for their two sons in New Haven, CT, seems to disintegrate. This gorgeous, shimmering account from a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in poetry is an homage to the 15-year partnership she and her husband shared. Though Alexander's story is deeply personal, readers who have experienced love and loss will relate to it easily. VERDICT While it's impossible to avoid comparisons to Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking (2005), this work is set apart by the fluid translation of Alexander's poetic ability into sentences so beautiful they beg to be reread. [See Prepub Alert, 10/20/14.] (c) Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Poet and Yale African Studies professor Alexander (The Black Interior; Power and Possibility) was devastated by the death of her artist husband, who died of cardiac arrest at age 50 while exercising in the basement of their home. This memoir is an elegiac narrative of the man she loved. Artist and chef Ficre Ghebreyesus's death was as inexplicable as the spark of love between him and Alexander after they met at a New Haven café in 1996. Ghebreyesus was a thin, fit person who nonetheless smoked; and he was not without his mysteries. For example, in the days before his death, he was obsessed with buying lottery tickets. Ghebreyesus was a gentle, peace-loving East African who had come through the Eritrean-Ethiopian civil war and was a refugee in America; he became a fashionable painter and an inventive chef at Caffe Adulis, which he ran in New Haven with his brothers. Alexander, who grew up in Washington, D.C., describes her husband's endearing traits such as sleep-talking or singing in his native Tigrinya, and the special rituals he made when their sons reached age 13. Fashioning her mellifluous narrative around the beauty she found in Ghebreyesus, Alexander is grateful, patient, and willing to pursue a fit of magical thinking that he might just return. (Apr.) [Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

The acclaimed poet reflects with gratitude on her life after the sudden death of her husband, discussing her personal quest for meaning and understanding, her renewed devotion to her teenage sons, and meditating on the blessings of love and family.