Study Guide

Blood Oranges

by Lisel Mueller

Blood Oranges Essay - Critical Essays

Critical Overview

Throughout over forty years of publishing poetry, Lisel Mueller has been a poet’s poet, well revered by her peers in the writing world but not well known outside of it. “Blood Oranges” is from her fourth collection, Second Language, which was received, like her other works, with sweeping acclaim. “Morality is a constant preoccupation in these pages,” Peter Stitt wrote of Second Language in the Georgia Review, “and is one of the reasons this volume is so powerful.” Stitt also pointed out Mueller’s constant, skillful use of imagery, noting that “[i]t is the objects around her, the objects she welcomes into her poems, that give meaning to the world for Mueller.” Joseph Parisi, in Booklist, called the book a good reason for her many fans to rejoice, referring to Mueller’s “uncommon empathy.” Parisi’s overall assessment of Second Lan- guage was that “Poem for poem, this is one of the strongest volumes of this or many another year.”

One of the few questions about the effectiveness of Mueller’s poetry came in a generally favorable review of Second Language from Fred Muratori, writing in the Library Journal. After much praise, he pointed out that “so many poems are first-person meditations (even the frequent “you” is an “I” in disguise) that one feels one’s attention repeatedly called to the poet’s sensitivities rather than to the poem.” This is a minor complaint...

(The entire section is 553 words.)