Poetry. Literary Nonfiction. Memoir. Introduction by Fanny Howe. THE PUBLIC GARDENS: POEMS AND HISTORY is a memoir of place (Boston, New York, Oakland and San Francisco) and of the commons (gardens, streets, subways, marriage and family, libraries), a documentary (with lyrics) of a life lived in, around, and for books.
"THE PUBLIC GARDENS is a brilliant, wonderful book, a sort of a wild institution, intense and readable. Linda Norton looks at the world like a dog who likes to tear apart couches—repressed but not for long. Though full of shame, this book is shameless. A life is freely divulged as are the multitude of homeopathic bits from the author's reading list. The overall experience of moving through THE PUBLIC GARDENS's shuttling prose and poetry is quietly breathtaking. I have felt and learned much from this book! Her 'Gardens' are both organized and entirely disorderly—anything and anyone from any point in history might saunter through, and that's the meaning of public isn't it? I find myself loving this writer's mind, light touch, and generous heart and I, reader, didn't want to go when it was done. My bowl is out. More!"—Eileen Myles
Author City: OAKLAND, CA USA
Linda Norton is the author of a chapbook, Hesitation Kit (Etherdome Press, 2007). Her collages have appeared on the covers of books by Claudia Rankine, Julie Carr, and Stacy Szymaszek, and are featured at Counterpath Press Online. "Landscaping for Privacy," her collaboration with composer Eve Beglarian, is available on iTunes. Norton is a senior editor at The Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley.
Reviews and Other Links
interview by Kate Greenstreet @ Studio One Reading Series
2011 Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist
Alison Peters @ East Bay Express Summer Book Guide
Andrew David King @ The Kenyon Review
“Have you ever heard Dinah Washington sing ‘This Bitter Earth’? Have you ever seen the movie by Charles Burnett called Killer of Sheep? This little book, THE PUBLIC GARDENS, conjures up the experience of that movie and that song, the fate of families and neighborhoods in 20th-century America. Although the title of the book shows that its ultimate point of reference is Boston, the work inside travels through New York and Oakland. Part poetry, part notebooks, it is a model of the camera made human, made humanist, a part of arm, leg, hand, a moving-picture taker pregnant with literature. What she sees, we have all seen and passed by. But she has paused to note it.
“Steeped in the language of Scripture and Emerson, the poetry here is fresh and wild, cultivated and desperate. Linda is Sicilian but everything in her is modern. She hates what she loves. This makes her lonely, inspired, uprooted, still hunting, and blissed out whenever possible. She documents her losses and loves, both as a free person and a mother, and every word she writes has the bittersweet taste of Dinah Washington.”