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Book Bag

NIGHT WITH ITS OWL

By Anne Love Woodhull

Levellers Press/Hedgerow Books

Anne Love Woodhull, an Amherst art therapist and teacher who works with children and adults, has written three children’s books. She also published a poetry chapbook in 2001 — and after a 12-year hiatus, she’s back with another volume of verse.

“Night With Its Owl,” published by Levellers Press of Amherst, offers more than 40 poems, some of which Woodhull previously published separately or in her 2001 chapbook. In her verse, Woodhull examines both the natural world and the life of the mind, as well as the connection between the two, including fear.

In “A Disturbance of Birds,” death is a brooding theme running through the lines: “After the funeral of my grandmother, / I return to the bird my heart is, / scratching around in the dirt, hopping / from one living sadness to the next. ... Dark gallops and the horizon snaps. So much / noise inside, her body can’t hold a life, / so with one gesture, / she takes it.”

There are odes to nature’s raw power in poems like “We Live By What We Hear at Night,” and also a recognition of its sometimes cruel cycles of life, as the narrator of “On New Year’s Day” chronicles: “The field of snow was streaked in red. Coyotes / pulled down a doe. They ate / her heart, stomach / but not her legs, her head / or the tongue hanging out of her mouth / sideways.”

“Night With Its Owl” includes a endorsement by nonfiction writer Ian Frazier, who says Woodhull’s poems “take the pain and terror and joy and everyday pocket change of life, and quietly hammer them into beauty. ... This is a powerful and moving collection by a poet of dazzling maturity.”

Anne Love Woodhull will read from her new volume at a book launch tonight at 7:30 at the A.P.E. Gallery in Northampton.

CRACKED OPEN: LIBERTY,
FERTILITY, AND THE PURSUIT OF
HIGH-TECH BABIES

By Miriam Zoll

Interlink Books

www.miriamzollnet

Health writer and advocate Miriam Zoll describes herself as an “official member of the Late Boomer Generation,” a woman who focused on her career and delayed marriage until she was 35. It wasn’t until she hit 40 that Zoll felt ready to have a child, and then health problems prevented her from becoming pregnant. So she and her husband, Michael, turned to fertility treatments, lured in part by the seemingly amazing success stories they kept hearing about the procedures in the media.

But Zoll, author of the new memoir, “Cracked Open: Liberty, Fertility, and the Pursuit of High-Tech Babies,” discovered that ART — Assisted Reproductive Treatment — wasn’t what it was, well, cracked up to be. She went through several unsuccessful in vitro fertilization treatments, then tried using donor eggs — only to discover that the agency she and her husband worked with had given her eggs from two infertile women.

Zoll’s grim experience — she says she suffered serious depression when she could not conceive a child — prompted her to investigate the world of reproductive technology, one she says operates with virtually no oversight and has a poor success rate, despite raking in billions of dollars. In 2010, the latest year for which data are available, nearly 69 percent of ART operations in the United States failed, she says.

Zoll, who with her husband eventually adopted an infant boy, says her research on ART treatments in a number of other countries also showed success rates are much lower than generally believed, and she says she’s written her book to bring attention to the issue.

“The powerful combination of reproductive medicine’s marketing strategies, and the mainstream media’s tendency to overestimate the potential of new technologies, has led to a global epidemic of misinformation about the age when women’s fertility naturally declines,” she writes, “and about the power of modern medicine to reverse it.”

What’s needed now, she says, is more industry oversight, more studies and “more balanced discussions” about realistic options for infertile women, including a renewed emphasis on adoption.

Miriam Zoll will read from and sign copies of “Cracked Open” Thursday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Booklink Bookstore in Thornes Marketplace in Northampton.

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