My Secret Boat: A Notebook of Prose and Poems

Michael Burkard, Author
Michael Burkard, Author W. W. Norton & Company $17.95 (85p) ISBN 978-0-393-02833-1
Reviewed on: 05/01/1990
Release date: 05/01/1990
Burkard's ( Fictions from the Self ) work is an acquired taste. For those who wish a direct encounter with an elusive medium, his seventh book--particularly its prose poems--may well offer a transcendent experience. The author approaches and invokes language as a sensory thing before it is a source of knowledge; best appreciated in a state of primal, sentient innocence, his words refresh and transform the possibilities of pure perception, while avoiding language's usual obligation to inform. Burkard's carefully reduced stock of images is powerful: the sea, a lantern, snow, rain and ghosts figure in a fragmentary dream that recurs over the course of the volume as the narrator plies a pen (``my secret boat'') to move through states of being, address sundry characters and espystet elements of plot. Claiming to learn most when seeking least, ``standing / in an idea'' or losing himself in what lies beyond himself, the speaker lends a voluminous consciousness to us that sympathetic readers will not soon forget. (July)
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