Among the Goddesses: An Epic Libretto in Seven Dreams
Winner, Sarasvati Award for Poetry
"I am awed by the massive technical skill and gut-wrenching bravery of Among the Goddesses. A classic. I almost said “a feminist classic,” but that limits it too much!"
—Patricia Monaghan, author of The Encyclopedia of Goddesses and Heroines
ABOUT THE BOOK
In two intertwined songs, a feminist epic poem and a dreamlike opera libretto, Among the Goddesses traces one woman’s harrowing mythological journey of discovery. Tutored by encounters with seven Goddesses, some frightening and some encouraging, Marie/Lily experiences friendship, loss, rape, and abortion as she finds her own spiritual strength. The root of Among the Goddesses is the epic poem “Marie Moving.” Sweeping in vision and compact in size, this magical story of archetypal encounter takes its shape from the most famous chant of the contemporary goddess movement: “Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Kali . . . Inanna.” These seven pre-Judeo-Christian goddesses, from ancient Egypt, Sumer, Greece, Babylonia, and India, have a powerful impact on Marie, infusing her life with increasing self-realization and strength of purpose. Each of these personifications of female power provides the force Marie needs to move her own life forward. A unique reading experience that evokes the communal, oral, archetypal roots of epic poetry, Among the Goddesses combines rhythmic, narrative, and dramatic resources of poetry that are not often brought to bear on contemporary feminism. This magical book of contemporary spirituality voices the power of the goddess and of poetry in today’s culture.
"Annie Finch’s Among the Goddesses: An Epic Libretto in Seven Dreams delivers a forceful tale of abortion, fraught with classic tension. Here, human will brazens out fate and mingles with goddesses. Here, an archetypal woman faces a decision as old as humanity."
—The Tower Journal
"No art form is as extravagant as opera, and Annie Finch has made a ravishing contribution to it–and to the poetic traditions behind her dramatic encounter with the goddesses. The warp and weft of poem and libretto are designed to reveal the song at the heart of the verse, the characters who pulse within the lines. Her book cunningly becomes a stage on which are enacted inspired rituals of beauty and power. A remarkable achievement!"
—J. D. McClatchy, Yale University
We have an opportunity in reading this amazing work, to call in our power, connect with the goddesses, and understand something truly core to being women.
—Jane Galer, Poet and Shaman
"Among the Goddesses is beautiful, and a book rare to find in poetry, playwriting, or anywhere else for that matter. I say this because it engages spot on with the sacred power of Death in relation to the reproductive power of women. It is so hard for people in our culture to face and understand this primal truth of earth being. This book will be very helpful to women who have been struggling to come to terms with the spiritual side of abortion."
—Linda Weber, counselor and author of Life Choices: The Teachings of Abortion
"Among the Goddesses is a bold experiment. Magical, mystical, musical, it charts a woman’s journey that reverses the journey of Odysseus. What is it to be aided by goddesses, if we are women? What is it to face death, and to cause death? How do we become ourselves? “Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Kali, Innanna” may be the mileposts of any woman’s journey toward freedom."
—Alicia Ostriker, author of The Book of Seventy
"In words that soar but are never obscure, Annie Finch tells of Goddesses who have returned offering threads of meaning with which to weave our lives anew. Sing to us, dear Muse."
—Carol P. Christ, author of Rebirth of the Goddess
"Among the Goddesses gives epic treatment to distinctly female epic concepts. The repetition of the poems’ lines juxtaposed with the lines in the libretto to mimic ritual is formally complicated, impressive, and ambitious. This is a book that treats female spirituality with reverence."
—Stacia M. Fleegal
From the Judges’ Citation, Sarasvati Award:
"Winner of the poetry award was Annie Finch for Among the Goddesses (Red Hen Press). In making their decision, the judges praised the poet’s penetrating connection of mythic figures with contemporary women’s issues as well as the bold centralizing of the conflicted issue of abortion at the book’s center.
The crafted narrative that links the individual poems was also singled out for praise by judges who noted that “the American reading public is less comfortable with non-narrative forms, so providing a strong story that draws the reader through the book was a decision that opened this intensely-crafted work to more readers.” Yet the individual poems themselves were also praised as “high-caliber and high-octane poems in diverse voices” as well as “breaking away from the overwhelmingly self-centering personal voice that limits much contemporary poetry, while retaining the immediacy of dialogue.” A final unique quality praised by the judges was the potential of the work for public performance, which opens the work to larger audiences as well as to collaboration with artists in other media."
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