Day of Our Lives is equal parts social history and memoir documenting the unraveling of a marriage against the backdrop of the shifting social mores of 1960s and ’70s America. Joan Aleshire’s speaker, a young wife, enters marriage gratefully, even eagerly, believing it to be “a long table / with friends crowding in, red wine / in tumblers.” Motherhood follows, but so do infidelities and reconciliation and ultimately divorce. With each hard knock, the speaker sheds a little more of her innocence as she gains awareness of her power as both a woman and a writer: “Coming home / late from a festival for women / where I’d said all the things / the audience liked, I slipped / into bed so flush with triumph / my husband recoiled from the heat.”
About the Author
Joan Aleshire was a member of the Warren Wilson MFA poetry faculty from 1983 through 2013. Days of Our Lives is her sixth book of poetry; she has also published essays and translations. She lives in Vermont, where she is a library trustee and the founder of SAGE, an organization that supports sustainable agricultural education and the arts. She is at work on a novel.
“Joan Aleshire’s absorbing memoir in poems reminds us that truth requires modesty, precision, and vision unclouded by ego. Her unfailing candor offers the everyday as the only day, where love and its betrayals unfold, and where, with the skillful composure and narrative drive of a seasoned poet’s telling, she parallels the slow erosion of a marriage with the disenchantment of a generation—and does it with tact and insight, and, most wonderfully, without blame or regret.” —Eleanor Wilner
“Most poets choose: navigate the personal or navigate the public. In Days of Our Lives, Aleshire abandons the choice. Instead, opts for the gospel that is all the ways our private turns at living are never as private as we imagine. As if, all of it, our love and the nation’s loss, hang by the thinnest of wires.” —Reginald Dwayne Betts
“The fearless and often unsparing poems of Joan Aleshire’s Days of Our Lives take as their subject the vital interfusion of personal and social history before, during, and in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. Like Anna Akhmatova her aesthetic and spiritual exemplar, Aleshire trusts the world as felt and experienced, however grievously, perilously, or joyously, and with no embellishment—only her remarkable eye for the exacting detail, the vital image, the truthful portrait, and her impeccable ear that combines as though effortlessly lyric urgency with narrative furtherance. Like the prints laid across a table in one moving poem, ‘gathered there, the broken / and the lost, hoping to be mended / or found or soothed,’ the lives rendered in Aleshire’s book come to the reader with all of their flaws flawlessly transfigured into art.” —Daniel Tobin
"I couldn’t stop reading it, with the suspense of a novel, page after page; the stories build, a brilliant chronology — every day is a diary of detail in a marriage that starts at the very first touch between two people on a rooftop and moves to its dreadful conclusion....Gluck comes to mind more than once here, with the control, the ability to temporize decline and keep it alive and make it last through the pages...."
— Grace Cavalieri