Elisabeth Frost

All of Us

“Frost’s debut collection, All of Us, uses the seemingly narrative prose poem to turn the unconscious conscious. What is unseen but seen and what is unspoken but spoken becomes apparent, as quotidian moments create layers to a voice that probes its own resonance only to find itself to be in all of us. Through the deep intelligence of these poems, Frost has composed transparent channels into our own lives – a stunning achievement.”
–Claudia Rankine

“In the white space out beyond Elisabeth Frost’s cropped tales, subtle situations, plausible and bizarre fantasias, you may sense the ghosts of Kafka and Borges strolling. But these delicious, low-key, disturbing and always surprising prose poems, with their train of lyric elegance, are a world unto themselves. All of Us is a compulsively readable book.”
–Alicia Ostriker

“Reading Elisabeth Frost’s extraordinary debut collection, All of Us, we enter a postmodern scene edged with irony, precise and elegiac. . . . Frost refuses the artifice (and comforts) of closure, observing that ‘All talk is slippery.’ The ground of these brilliant poems slips from caustic wit to still-palpable mourning, and All of Us opens to a tender and finally capacious vision.”
–Cynthia Hogue

“Elisabeth Frost’s poems explore romantic love, family, and the outer social realm with passion and uncanny perception. The question that sparks Frost’s creation is deeply philosophical and epistemological: how do we know each other? She asks how we read and more particularly how we read each other. . . . All of Us presents a discerning vision of possibility and hope about the way all of us stand in relation to the concrete and spiritual universe.”
–Aliki Barnstone

“I continue to find [All of Us] full of wisdom, nuance, and surprise.”
–Valerie Fox, Press One

Excerpts from All of Us


Hello, Sweetheart

      Mother’s voice on the phone. She uses her favorite endearment.
      I ask how she is. “Oh, fine,” she says. “I’m not disturbing you?” And she talks about the constant rain. I half listen, writing the day’s errands on an envelope, my shoulder clamping the receiver, till I notice an inflection to her speech.
      “Excuse me,” I say, interrupting her. “But who are you looking for?”
      Seconds pass. Her voice is thin. “Why, I’m looking for you! I’m talking to you, aren’t I?”
      “But,” I insist, “who am I?”
      She starts screaming. “Margaret! You’re Margaret!”


Two Stories

A.

Her mother asked to be buried beside her husband. Her mother asked to be buried with socks on, in case her feet got cold. Her mother asked to be buried in her girdle. An embalmer worked through the night. It seemed that certain parts swelled. The feet eased into the socks. But the waist and hips of the mother no longer fit the girdle. Since the girdle could not be placed on the mother, the daughter placed the girdle beside the mother, edged neatly between the mother’s torso and the casket’s quilted satin, so that when the mourners approached the casket to view the mother’s body, they approached the mother and they approached the girdle.



B.

Her mother asked that her ashes be scattered in Central Park. The daughter carried the urn filled with the ashes to a secluded section by a stream. She had no thought of emptying it. Raising her arms high, she threw the urn into the stream. It floated slowly. . . . Soon some kids playing by the stream spotted the urn and fished it out. They’ve got my mother! The daughter ran full speed. She grabbed the urn from the arms of one of the children, who fled toward the safety of the street. This time, when the daughter returned to her original spot, she carefully checked downstream before raising her arm to throw her mother in.

Selected Works

Collaborations
Selected text-image prints with artist Dianne Kornberg.
Poetry
“A compulsively readable book”
–Alicia Ostriker
Chapbooks
from Red Glass Books
“strange little poems written as stories written as poems” —rob mclennan
Literary Criticism
A historical and theoretical account of avant-garde women poets in America from the 1910s through the 1990s
Edited Anthology
“an exciting—thrilling, even—addition to the growing canon of scholarship on contemporary U.S. women’s poetry”
–Maria Damon, The American Book Review