Recent & Notable

(Spring 2004)

Trevor Joyce, With the First Dream of Fire They Hunt The Cold (Exeter: Shearsman Books, 2003). “For all their complexity his orchestrations stay close to a voiced order: even at their most abstract Joyce’s poems retain the texture of a speaking voice…The constant interweaving of voices, their diversity and fragmentariness, the conjunction of randomness and order, are part of an aesthetic which refuses the comforts of the single perspective and the biographical imperatives which drive so much poetry…The work is consistently interesting, formally engaging, wide-ranging and risky; altogether an unmissable collection.” —Peter Sirr, Poetry Ireland Review

Clayton Eshleman, Juniper Fuse (Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press, 2003). “Archeologists and artists have written on southwestern European cave, but none have given us a book like this. Clayton Eshleman has explored and inspected almost all the great cave art of southwestern Europe including many caves that are not open to the public and require special permission. Now with visionary imagination, informed poetic speculation, deep insight, breathtaking leaps of mind, Eshleman draws out the underground of myth, psychology, prehistory, and the first turn of the human toward the modern. Juniper Fuse opens up to our ancient selves: we might be weirder (and also better) than we thought.” —Gary Snyder.

Nicole Cooley, The Afflicted Girls (Baton Rouge: LSU Press, 2004). “Cooley’s evocative and passionate poems do not sacrifice historical accuracy to emotion. Rather, a sensitive and precise understanding of the dark tragedy of the 1692 Salem witch-hunts informs her poetry. Readers possessed of a cerebral acquaintance with that time will be moved to a visceral appreciation of its terrors and pathos by Cooley’s art. The Afflicted Girls brilliantly elucidates what the people of Salem might have been thinking and feeling during the crisis. There is not a false note in this intense and affecting collection. ” —Elizabeth Reis, author of Damned Women: Sinners and Witches in Puritan New England

Alice Jones, Gorgeous Morning (Berkeley: Apogee Press, 2004). “Gorgeous Morning is an ingenious book-length prose poem sequence with one-word titles such as “Attend,” “Dread,” and “Glean.” Each poem gathers a constellation of sentences phonetically or thematically suggested by that word. The method is reminiscent of Gertrude Stein’s “recreation of the word” in Tender Buttons, but with a richness of allusion that gives us back the word with restored freshness and attention. Alice Jones reminds us that poetry is a precise means of uncertainty, through which we renew experience without the willful attempt to clarify it. The playfulness and “give” of the work is a great pleasure.”—Paul Hoover.

John Latta, Breeze (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2003). A fully-voiced, self-conscious, rich rhetoric is on display in these poems, but not for a moment does it deafen Latta to the voice of silence and the unsaid: “Letting the wind speak is Paradise, that thing known/only by its passing/through its going elsewhere, a shiftless continuum moving ever/generously over unbordered mountain and forest and town.” In a volume attuned to the seductions of rhetoric and silence alike, Breeze establishes Latta as a stylist of the moment well worth turning—and returning—to.

Timothy Liu, Of Thee I Sing (Athens, Ga.: University of Georgia Press, 2004). “With formidable invention, Tim Liu has made a book that is the ‘flesh canoe’ of liberty, American liberty. Family, sex, art, the fissures of liberty: ‘America’s/indigenous sublime.’ By his eloquent, memorable, unappeased example, Liu enjoins us to do what Ginsberg did, put our queer shoulders to the wheel.” —Frank Bidart

Thomas David Lisk, Aroma Terrapin (Lewiston: New York: Mellen Poetry Press, 2003). Inventive, risky poems, with a Joycean “jocoserious” tonal range. Combining an Ashberryesque interest in interrogating the seemingly whimsical, Aroma Terrapin finds a kind of equipoise in the paradoxes of desire—and in the “tink and tank and tank-a-tunk-tunk” of writing about them.

Rabindranath Tagore, The Lover of God Tony K. Stewart & Chase Twichell, translators. (Port Townsend: Copper Canyon Press, 2003). Exacting, lyrical translations—recreations—of Tagore’s Bengali poetry. This is love poetry, but a love poetry interested in exploring the far reaches of human emotion, whether rapturous love or soul-destroying despair. Like Emily Dickinson’s letters, these poems lay open the many levels—and ironies—of human desire in order to redefine what it means to be human.


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