It Shouldn’t Have Been Beautiful


Version 2

Lia Purpura has won national acclaim as both a poet and an essayist. The exquisitely rendered poems in this, her fourth collection, reach back to an early affinity for proverbs and riddles and the proto-poetry found in those forms.

Praise for It Shouldn’t have Been Beautiful:

“Compact, profound, bright, occasionally dangerous, Purpura’s sentences shine like amethyst pendants, snap shut like bear traps, and open up underneath like trap doors. Her phrases demand to be quoted, and they astonish. If you compare them to watercolors, they are watercolors of granite, of towns on fire. Purpura’s poems tell truths we did not realize were truths. They instruct by evading, and evade by offering tacit instruction: ‘no hope,’ Purpura jokes, ‘just secret negotiations with hope taking place.’ ” Stephen Burt

“With a zeal for rarity, great tenderness, and a breathtaking ferocity of attention, Purpura zooms in to scrutinize the bittersweet pivot that takes place in us when the world does not meet our desires. These poems are rooted in wonder, in the wide, dislocating pressures of mystery. Purpura shows how “beauty persists,” and can jolt us, sometimes terribly, out of commonplace states. Everything, she suggests, can be disturbed and sprung loose, even grief. Ultimately, this is a gorgeous, fire-lit meditation on gratitude: the way gratitude can flow from not-knowing, the way awareness and its powers are endlessly free.” Joanna Klink

“Lia Purpura’s brief poems of direct statement seem to be preceded by a long silence in which the irrelevant and superfluous has been stripped away. But if the poems are distillations, their formulations are not presented as polished conclusions but as definitions-in-progress, subject to change in the interest of truth. The honest openness of their process gives them an impressive authority.  Carl Dennis

“These poems, simple and compact as seeds, yield pleasures as gigantic and wondrous as sunflowers.”  Mary Ruefle