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Fountains for Orpheus

Audrey Rooney

Through the poems in this brilliant debut collection, Audrey Rooney explores timeless concepts from love and loss to aging and nature. This book contains poems of diverse shapes, forms and sizes, as well as several translations of Rilke's Sonnets to Orpheus, matched with Audrey's poignant responses to Rilke's work.

What Others Say About Fountains for Orpheus

In Fountains for Orpheus, Audrey Rooney invites us to bring our artist eyes to the beauty-filled and bewildering scenes of her well-lived life. "Come, Gardener," she writes, and we are introduced to a world of violet skies, river deaths, and small talk. She's a keen writer, wise and intelligent. Emotionally, she never strays far from her music or her man. Congratulations to Audrey for this delightful debut collection!

—Neil Chethik

Audrey Rooney's painterly poems reveal our ordinary world for the fresh miracle it is—charged and shining in the carnelian flash of flagstones, in the tulip poplar's "egg-cup" blooms, green as luna moths. Lovely as their images are, however, these poems are no mere surfaces. In Fountains for Orpheus, Rooney's poems pursue loss, change, and imperfection—hers, ours. Often quirky, never somber (though they circle death) these poems reward reading and rereading. They probe the uncertain edges where winter passes into spring, where death invades life and "creatures given to our care make no promises not to break our hearts one day." What are the dead to the living or the living to the dead? Rooney asks, as Rilke did. And as Rilke's did, Audrey Rooney's poems find a way to "love the in-betweens."

—Leatha Kendrick

Meticulously observed and elegantly composed, Rooney's poems celebrate and mourn the beauty of nature, the transcendence of art, and the death of the beloved. They write back to Rilke, examine a childhood relic from her lost brother, embrace grandchildren, and everywhere render the music of this world with learning and longing. Fountains for Orpheus is a volume to savor.

—George Ella Lyon



I've never grown old before
so still have a lot to learn.
Time accelerates, healing slows
and last month somewhere
in the Blue Ridge mountains
the Avalon's odometer caught
my attention: 111,111.
Now mine reads 77. In woman years,
how old is my car?
In Avalon years, how old am I?

Details and Ordering

Publication Date: August 15, 2016
Format: Softcover, 6" x 9"
ISBN: 978-1-936628-45-2
Price: $15.00

Ships on or before August 15th

About the Author

Audrey Rooney, three times a Kentucky resident, now living in Lexington, recalls a life filled with words. Her mother was a published poet active in Cleveland, where Audrey was born in 1938. An October baby, she heard "October's Bright Blue Weather" every birthday and learned her alphabet sitting on the living room floor perplexed by gold letters on Britannica spines: RAYN to SAAR, SARS to SORC. Her dad promised her a dollar for memorizing them all and she did. As a journalist she has published in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and Kentucky. She is a trained soprano and her watercolors and drawings hang in collections in this country and abroad. Undergraduate philosophy studies, two post-graduate forays, (MA in art history, doctorate in history), a long marriage, a daughter and a son, their daughter and sons, clusters of wondrous friends—all tinctured with loss and discovery—prompt this first book of poems gathered in memory of James R. Rooney.

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