3 Poetry Books I’ve Read This Year

 

1. Space, In Chains by Laura Kasischke.

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Goodreads Synopsis: Laura Kasischke’s poems have the same haunting qualities and truth as our most potent memories and dreams. Through ghostly voices, fragmented narratives, overheard conversations, songs, and prayers in language reminiscent of medieval lyrics converted into contemporary idiom, the poems in Space, In Chains create a visceral strangeness true to its own music.

So we found ourselves in an ancient place, the very
air around us bound by chains. There was
stagnant water in which lightning
was reflected, like desperation
in a dying eye. Like science. Like
a dull rock plummeting through space, tossing
off flowers and veils, like a bride. And

also the subway.
Speed under ground.
And the way each body in the room appeared to be
a jar of wasps and flies that day—but, enchanted,
like frightened children’s laughter.

3 stars

2. A Village Life By Louise Gluck

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Goodreads Synopsis: A Village Life, Louise Glück’s eleventh collection of poems, begins in the topography of a village, a Mediterranean world of no definite moment or place:

All the roads in the village unite at the fountain.

Avenue of Liberty, Avenue of the Acacia Trees—

The fountain rises at the center of the plaza;

on sunny days, rainbows in the piss of the cherub.

—from “tributaries”

Around the fountain are concentric circles of figures, organized by age and in degrees of distance: fields, a river, and, like the fountain’s opposite, a mountain. Human time superimposed on geologic time, all taken in at a glance, without any undue sensation of speed.

Glück has been known as a lyrical and dramatic poet; since Ararat, she has shaped her austere intensities into book-length sequences. Here, for the first time, she speaks as “the type of describing, supervising intelligence found in novels rather than poetry,” as Langdon Hammer has written of her long lines—expansive, fluent, and full—manifesting a calm omniscience. While Glück’s manner is novelistic, she focuses not on action but on pauses and intervals, moments of suspension (rather than suspense), in a dreamlike present tense in which poetic speculation and reflection are possible.

3 stars

3. The Tunnel by Russell Edson

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Goodreads Synopsis: This prized collection of Russell Edson’s prose poems, featuring his own favorites from seven prior collections, constitutes some of the most original American art of this century. This is the book of choice for both new and committed fans of this imaginative poet.

2 stars

 

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