Traction   (November 2011)


By Mary Makofske

ISBN: 978-0-912592-11-4

Winner of the 2010 Richard Snyder Publication Prize

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“Traction is a collection of poetry that repays attention. The poems are intelligent and well-crafted. Makofske ranges widely from moving meditations on prehistory to an homage to Walt Whitman, love poems, family poems, poems about nature, mortality, and growing up in the fifties. These poems are not just for the eye but sound in the ear.”

– Marge Piercy


“Mary Makofske’s poems create a dialogue with the work of Whitman, Eliot, and James Wright. Her subjects are personal growth but also continuity, how much we ask of nature which asks nothing of us, the way flesh holds the spirit, the fragility of love and desire and the toughness of bone and ritual. She shows us the life cycle of a farm house, a gardener worrying that his creation will be destroyed because an ancient skull has been unearthed, bird tracks in the snow writing the history of their own hunger, mounds of paper at the recycling center crying out that we are constantly engaged in re-creation. The poems bring us out of ourselves and toward an understanding of our own relationship to history.”

– Deborah Fleming


“There is a quiet self-possession and maturity of vision in this volume that characterizes all of its poems; yet at the same time they range widely, addressing subjects as various as Neolithic customs, Whitman’s career as a Civil War nurse, the physiology of cetaceans, and a Muslim’s stealthy visit to an adult bookstore. The author is also capable of writing sly accounts of family history and a Cold War childhood that seem archetypal rather than generic, that show evidence of a strong social conscience that never devolves to cant. Traction is an altogether impressive book of great tonal and formal range.”

– David Wojahn


“The traction referred to in the title poem here is not of the ‘where the rubber meets the road’ variety; rather it is the meticulously forced arrangement of damaged limbs into the relationships best maintained to restore comfort and health to the afflicted. The poems in TRACTION are as lithe and limber, as powerful, as long distance swimmers– or, better yet, divers, with not a trace of fat, all flat muscle, lean grace, bent to spring.”

– William Pitt Root


About the Author

Mary MakofskeMary Makofske grew up in Washington, DC, and received a B.A. from Douglass College and M.A. from the University of Minnesota. She is the author of Traction (Ashland Poetry Press, 2011), The Disappearance of Gargoyles (Thorntree Press, 1988) and Eating Nasturtiums (1998), winner of a Flume Press chapbook competition. Until her retirement in 2006, she taught expository writing, literature, and creative writing at SUNY Orange. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, Mississippi Review, Poetry East, ZONE 3, American Poetry Review, Natural Bridge, Calyx, Louisville Review, and other journals and anthologies. She and her husband live in a solar house in New York State.

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