Eleven Days Before Spring: Poems

Joellen Kwiatek, Author
Joellen Kwiatek, Author Harper Perennial $25 (56p) ISBN 978-0-06-055350-0
Paperback - 56 pages - 978-0-06-095015-6
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Writing with a painterly sensibility, Kwiatek offers a first collection filled with imagery informed by her infatuation with art and myth. Many of the poems concern themselves with painters and paintings (especially those of Vermeer). Others serve as canvases-attempts by the poet to portray in rich, jewel-like color her physical and emotional surrounds, flush with expectation and a calm sense of what might be called domestic divinity. Kwiatek is at her best when working from her own imagination and native palette, rather than ingratiating herself to the imagination of others. The third and final part of the collection is strongest. Here, Kwiatek integrates the universality of myth with the small-scale workings of an ordinary life. There is a marked innocence in her craft, an apparent desire to incite readers to empathy with her own wonder, much as she is seduced by the opulently oxygenated color of visual art. And this can also be a weakness. The fluidity of her vision, and her wish for a merger with the subject at hand, along with the palpable absence of objectivity, of distance between her and her experience, sometimes muddy the purity of her intentions. Aside from this minor criticism, her work presents promise and passion. (Nov.)
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