The adultery poems

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Adultery with its pleasure, pain and outrage! No one writes the poetry of adultery as does Nancy Holmes. For her guide, she takes the poet Ovid who schools her in his tender cynicism and teaches her the art of love. When she capitulates to the temptations of bad love, the poems themselves speak up and scold her into behaving properly (or improperly). When she pauses to consider her wayward ways or guilty conscience, the poems remind her that poetry is where wild abandon meets control, that her life and follies are the fuel for art. "Shut up and make love, you crazy fool," they shout. Ultimately she is forced into the most rigid poetic straightjacket of all -- the sonnet -- where she learns her lessons well. As Holmes shows, no matter how ridiculously one behaves or how poorly one chooses, the adventure of lust and love is one of the deepest pleasures of our adult life. Through love we are transformed into sensual slaves, life's clowns and criminals, but these roles must be embraced or we miss out on one of the great experiences of life. The spirit of Ovid hovers over these wry, sad and comic poems, reminding us that it was always thus, for men and women, both.

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