Impulse to Fly

Almitra David

Impulse to Fly invites the reader into the lives of many ordinary people who are limited by society, poverty, or their own personal circumstances. David’s convincing and unsentimental portraits are a testament to the poet as witness, giving voice to the otherwise unheard.

from Skinner’s Neck:
A Chesapeake Sequence

when the winds
kick up like a

everything is a bird

pods fly on
feathered leaves     the
marsh grass flails like
grounded herons     and

farmers’ sheds give up
flocks of rakes and hoes

the old woman holds steady
even when the wind
scoops up her table and

flies away     a
hungry gull before it
nose dives into the bay


Listen to David’s poems “Ascent,” “Late November,” “Beatrice of the Cenci,” and “Morning List,” read by Gail Thomas:

Cover image: Impulse to Fly

Out of print

“These are complex and many-layered poems, nothing in them to suggest that it is possible to separate joy from pain, or transformation from tragedy… Almitra David breathes her poetry with grace and ferocity.” CALYX
Impulse to Fly offers verbal lucidity, sensuous impact, emotional integrity, wisdom, and…a gallery of unsentimental but vividly compassionate images.” Beloit Poetry Journal
David was named one of “Ten Poets to Watch” in 2000: “Learn from her how to be both tough-minded and variously musical.” Writer’s Digest
“Purity of feeling and clarity of vision literally shine through these poems: how Almitra David can remain so uncorrupted by the evil her unflinching truthfulness confronts is one of the wonders of this collection ... These poems alter the very air we breathe with their recovery of the unheard, the dignity of their restraint, and the sweetness of their sorrowing compassion for us all.” —Eleanor Wilner

Author photograph by Rochelle Toner

Almitra David

Almitra Marino David (1941–2003) published her first book, Between the Sea and Home (Eighth Mountain Press) in 1993, and Impulse to Fly is her second full-length collection. David also published a chapbook, Building the Cathedral (Slash & Burn Press, 1986). Her poems and translations have been published in various journals including The American Poetry ReviewAmerican VoiceBeloit Poetry Journal, and Ellipses. She retired in 2003 after teaching Spanish at Friends Select School for fifteen years.

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