The Album by Peg Boyers


Each of the poems in this book, relates to a painting or sculpture, but is by no means an “illustration.” In writing the poems I have allowed myself to move well beyond the visible parameters of the images, exploring what seem to me leads and implications, traveling out as far as seemed plausible and compelling while at the same time never quite abandoning the constraint embodied in each image. The poems are unified only in the sense that each relates to what seems to me a worthy “original.” Taken together the poems offer something of a representative, if miscellaneous, account of the interests, passions and fears of their author. Nothing more, nothing less.

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  • Kind: Perfectbound
  • Pages: 80
  • Language: English
  • Date Published: August, 2021
  • ISBN: 978-1-953252-28-9


for Hard Bread:
“The odor, the tang of personality rises irresistibly from these pages. Here the shifting accents of an underlying stoicism somehow take on glamour and pathos, as we watch an unashamed intelligence confront the irretrievable.” —Frank Bidart 

“A great achievement of poetic voice.” —Steven Cramer, POETRY Magazine

“Boyers has accomplished a masterpiece of lyric dramatic art.” —Carolyn Forche 

“This is true poetry, giving voice with unforgettable specificity to the woe, comedy and heroism of a twentieth-century life.” —Robert Pinsky

for Honey with Tobacco:
“In poems about her girlhood in Cuba, the agonies of parenting, even the ordinary life of a dog, Boyers combines a kind of bridal innocence with the whiteness of the dead. Honey with Tobacco takes us back, like taste and smell, to the place where memory—pungent and sweet and acrid—tries to provide the key to everything.” —Henri Cole

for To Forget Venice:
“Elegant, contemporary, and wry, the voice at its center is also capable of disarming flights of imagination as it enters and inhabits other lives across time and gender…..a tour de force of ventriloquism.” —Chase Twichell


Self-Portrait in a Thriftstore Cap*

Astonished, or pretending to be,
my brows knit
into a question, mouth pursed,
almost open, rounding out an O
it’s you, a joke, of course
since it is always
you, next to me,
or facing me,
as you are now
with a camera, still
amazingly alive, here, still
tickled to have caught
me trying on this goofy cap
someone’s grandma might have knit,
with all the pieces of left-over yarn
in her craft bag, remnants of her devotion.

I ask is this hideous or wonderful?
You shake your head at my bad taste, yet
something about this cap
draws me: it is aggressive
and I am not, and wearing it
I am aggressively un-beautiful. Not
an object of desire, but free, just
some nameless dame with her hair up
in a tacky wool cap. No one
to notice or speak to or taunt.
If I am smart I can be smart. Or silly.
Or neither. Soon enough
I will be old, beyond such
remembered oppressions
(youth and its exhausting beauty!)
but now there is the luxury of
pretending to be un-beautiful
—a kind of play within
a play—within a play,
the concluding scene
off-stage, for now deferred.

*after Self-Portrait in a Cap (1639) by Rembrandt


Peg BoyersPeg Boyers is Executive Editor of Salmagundi magazine and the author of three previous books of poetry published by the University of Chicago Press: HARD BREAD (2002), HONEY WITH TOBACCO (2007) and TO FORGET VENICE (2014). She teaches poetry at Skidmore College and at The New York State Summer Writers Institute, and has taught workshops in translation at The Columbia University School of the Arts. Her poems regularly appear in such magazines as The New Republic, Paris Review, Harvard Review and many others. Her recent work includes a series of poems in the journal Liberties and the afterword to the New York Review of Books edition of Natalia Ginzburg’s Family Lexicon.

Additional information

Weight 7 oz
Dimensions 9 × 7.5 × .25 in