miami university


Long Distance


Aleda Shirley

1996. 1-881163-16-4 / 1-881163-17-2

Long Distance book cover

Out of Print

“The idea that ‘America may always be more a passage than a place’ is explored with kaleidoscopic resonance and cut-glass clarity in this moving second collection by Mississippi poet Shirley… Throughout, both time and space are evocatively shape-shifting dimensions, as when, on a drive through Oklahoma, ‘That road seemed like the future: an emptiness / that could turn, at any moment, into beauty.’ With a seemingly common first-person speaker throughout, these poems invoke love, its loss and an ever-shadowing solitude against an ever-shifting setting (from dusty Texas to the eerily romantic, poolside setting of ‘Tropical Deco’). Shirley grounds the numinous in palpable detail (a poem about the Mexican Day of the Dead describes ‘…the rooms rich with the smell of bread, pan de los muertos, / lemon-colored loaves shaped in the swelling oval / of a human soul’). Reminiscent of poems of the late Richard Hugo, Shirley’s measured lyric language and seamless craftmanship reveal the offroad intimacies and profundities of the American landscape.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

About the Author

Photo of Aleda ShirleyAleda Shirley’s previous poetry book, Chinese Architecture, won the Poetry Society of America’s 1987 Norma Farber First Book Award. She was awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Mississippi Arts Commission, and the Kentucky Arts Council.

Her poems have appeared in such places as The American Poetry Review, Kenyon Review, Poetry, and Virginia Quarterly Review. She died in 2008.

Author Photo by: Kay Holloway