Recent & Notable
Lucie Brock-Broido, Trouble in Mind. (New York: Knopf, 2004). 75 pp. $23.00
“‘Split the lark,’ wrote Emily Dickinson, ‘and you’ll see the music.’ Lucie Brock-Broido is so fiercely wedded to lyric that even this book of disenchantment enchants; the lark sings under the knife. The gorgeous verbal robes of The Master Letters are here, but they slip to reveal a bare and vulnerable clarity that would devastate, were the poems not so beautiful, were they not everywhere lit by the desolate, lark-song speech this astonishing poet loves: ‘an attention/So attentive it is next to worshipping.”—Mark Doty
Joseph Donahue, In This Paradise. Terra Lucida XXI-XL. (Durham, NC: Carolina Wren Press Poetry Chapbooks no. 5, 2004).29 pp. “The clear and shining geography of Joseph Donahue’s latest installment of the Terra Lucida series, In This Paradise, is continually being created or destroyed. In either case, the narrator catches glimpses of Eden […]Donahue’s roving eye finds that every scrap of divinity, of truth, “continues the Creation.//Every scrap and tatter of a true image/proves the world incomplete.” These poems read like passages that have been lost from holy scripture; they suss out the architecture of a shadowy paradise. Donahue does not provide a map for this paradise, but where he looks hidden continents appear.” —Ken Rumble, Desert City Poetry Series
Tony Lopez, Equal Signs. (Cambridge: Equipage, 2004). Lopez’s chapbook is made up of two sections, one entitled “Equal Signs” and the other, “Sequel Lines.” Both are collage texts, the first fashioned in part out of fragments from The Tempest, scraps of papers on American poetry from academic conferences, new stories and other sources. “Sequel Lines”is bricolage entirely fashioned out of presentations at a Pound conference. In “tearing apart/contemporary idiom” Lopez creates a text that defies readerly assumptions. Synthetic, unsettling, and arresting, Lopez’s text comments on the odd clash of idioms and idiolects used to negotiate a globalized world.
Anne Winters, The Displaced of Capital. (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press/ Phoenix Poetry Series, 2004).62 pp. $14.00. “Anne Winter’s severely observed, richly detailed, and passionately phrased poems vividly bring to life the alleys and avenues, tracks and tenements, of the metropolis where ‘the displaced of capital’ are lodged in hope, dread, or despair. And even while the city she gives us is distinctively contemporary, it is also a timeless instance of what-in ‘The First Verse,’ a meditation on Genesis with which she ends her collection-she calls ‘the terrible world.’ A headlong yet shapely rush of language, Winter’s new book is utterly compelling in its mastery of that world.”—Sandra M. Gilbert
Jeffrey Encke, Most Wanted: A Gamble in Verse. $10.00 (C.f. www.matlub.net). An unexpectedly effective and poignant set of poems that is more than a parody of Department of Defense’s “Deck of Doom” playing cards used to help round up important figures in Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq. Encke has collaborated withVivek Chadaga, a Boston-based writer and graphic designer, to create haunting lyrical fragments superimposed over poignant images. “Most Wanted” plays an inspired, surprising set of riffs on the bromide ‘Make Love Not War.’ Jeff Encke dares us to see the war of the human heart as darker and more disjointed than the war of nations, the love of war as simpler and safer than the love of people, and the power of words as more intricate and uncertain than any military policy. The changing script of love that emerges every time his pack of elliptic fragments is shuffled and a new game of poetic poker is played helps to restore human individuality, vulnerability and contingency to a world in which we can never wish to imprison whatever it is we most want.” Bart Eeckhout, author of Wallace Stevens and the Limits of Reading.
Susan Howe, The Midnight (New York: New Directions, 2003). A rare book made out of “bed hangings, unfinished lace, ghosts, family photographs and whispers” in which image and writing play off each other in a kind of literary installation art that redefines what a book is and can do. “Howe’s words give the impression of echoing another hidden poetry of which we catch only fragments, like an opera sung in another room—except that the other room is death, or history, or the ineffable. Her vocabulary includes the whole past of language. The words are magnetic filings that adhere uncertainly to a receding body of meaning.” Geoffrey O’Brien, The Village Voice.