The Marie Alexander Series is dedicated to promoting the appreciation and enjoyment of prose poetry.

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All of Us

All of Us

All of Us

by Elisabeth Frost

The "us" of Frost's title evokes both the intimacy of lovers and the anonymity of strangers, the negotiations of domestic life and the chance encounters that shape our daily, public lives. Throughout the narratives in All of Us, miscommunication threatens havoc, as time and again, these poems present misfires of communication, gaps in memory, and the simple limitations of language that cause frustration and isolation. The title poem explores a cityscape where community is vertically compressed, and strangers—who are also neighbors—appear eye-to-eye at the peep holes of their locked doors. What is the nature of what Ezra Pound called "commerce" between us? Frost explores this question with passion, humor and pathos.

About the Author

Elisabeth Frost is the author of The Feminist Avant-Garde in American Poetry (Iowa, 2003); Bindle, a text-image collaboration with artist Dianne Kornberg (Ricochet Editions, 2015); and two chapbooks: A Theory of the Vowel (Red Glass Books, 2011) and Rumor (Mermaid Tenement Press, 2009). She is also co-editor of Innovative Women Poets: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry and Interviews (Iowa, 2006). Frost has held grants from the Fulbright Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation-Bellagio Center, Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, and others. Her poems and critical essays have appeared in such journals as Postmodern Culture, The Denver Quarterly, Barrow Street, Boulevard, HOW2, The Journal, The New England Review, Poetry, and The Yale Review. Frost is Professor of English and Women's & Gender Studies at Fordham University, where she teaches contemporary poetry and creative writing, as well as editing the Poets Out Loud Prizes book series from Fordham Press.

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The persistence of bad dreams, the meaning of illness, the acquaintances and the distractions of apartment life (‘the stairs in the walk-up ringing’), erotic attachment and filial attention energize the elegant poems, mostly in prose paragraphs, of this debut. Frost already has some reputation as a critic of difficult poetry, but those who expect provocative, frame-breaking poems will not get them. Mostly, Frost’s work is more straightforward. Her people view the ordinary life course—birth, growth, health; parenthood, illness, death—with a tenacious combination of fear and devotion. A grandmother holds her first grandchild ‘as if she had always known how,’ and a ‘tall man in his sixties’ recovers almost completely from amnesia: ‘He remembered everything except how he had gotten to where he was after boarding the train. It hardly mattered, now his life was back.’ One couple tries to decide whether to have children, whether to devote their lives ‘to the well-being of another, unformed and vaguely like oneself.’ Another couple watches a medical show together and then decide ‘They ought to watch less TV. It seems too much to hope for, health, now that they’ve seen it up close.’
— Publisher's Weekly
These spare, intelligent poems capture small stories and ask big questions. Frost has created a quiet, closely observed book.
— Suzanne Parker, Mead
Full of wisdom, nuance, and surprise.…There’s an implicit warning in All of Us not to judge others too hastily. It sets the tone for a work that explores poignantly how relationships (parent and child, lovers, spouses, neighbors in an apartment building) occupy our thoughts and define our sense of self and world.
— Valerie Fox, Press 1
Poem after poem in All of Us plays desire against loss.… Alternative realities materialize suddenly, as if any given set of facts, any narrative, any identity, has a separated-at-birth twin, ready to pop up behind you in line at the copy shop.… The paradox of this beautiful book is that deprivation is both the precondition for and consequence of creativity—and, it may be, true love.
— Julie Sheehan, Ron Slate’s On the Seawall
It is the sense of solitude I found in All of Us, a loneliness accompanied by a kind of bawdy humor and a vast empathy that makes me want to recommend [this] book.… The poems are micro-stories, deft and piercing.
— Catherine Barnett, Ron Slate’s On the Seawall
Elisabeth Frost’s impressive debut delivers page upon page of poems that read as comprehensive, detailed accounts of formative moments…at times in a single, breathless sentence.…The taut threads of emotion that run throughout All of Us move the prose poems forward.…All of Us sings with surprising execution.
— Kelly Davio, The Women’s Review of Books
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.…She helps us see how All of Us stand in relation to the concrete and spiritual universe.
— Aliki Barnstone
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 in these poems.…Frost, through the deep intelligence of these poems, 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

Release DateApril 2011




Dimensions6.2 x 0.2 x 9.5 inches

Family Portrait

Family Portrait

Angles of Approach

Angles of Approach