CASCADE EXPERIMENT: Selected Poems

Alice Fulton, Author
Alice Fulton, Author . Norton $24.95 (205p) ISBN 978-0-393-05928-1
Reviewed on: 04/26/2004
Release date: 05/01/2004
Open Ebook - 224 pages - 978-0-393-07947-0
Paperback - 205 pages - 978-0-393-32762-5
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Fulton's first selected (and her seventh collection overall) cements her reputation as a quirky, increasingly challenging assembler of a pleasantly cluttered, pluralistic, kaleidoscopic world. Grounded in the pathos of personal lyric, Fulton's early offerings—Dance Script with Electric Ballerina (1983) and Palladium (1986)—already showed the range for which she became known, roping in subjects from "the wet/ storeways of Graytown, U.S.A." to Isaac Newton, Emily Dickinson, ice-fishing huts and "Aerobia, Goddess of the Body." Other poems took on the grim landscapes of Michigan, where Fulton long lived (she now teaches at Cornell). Zipping from fact to emotion and back again, Fulton's lines mirrored her thoughts' abrupt stops and new starts, "tipping and flirting/ with seldom-seen surfaces." Longer poems and later books took better advantage of Fulton's polymathic bent, offering opalescent disquisitions on two or three topics at once: Felt (2001), her strongest yet, staged a parade of white and off-white objects, from Dickinson's dress to Fulton's own castoffs to "emollients made of mammal fat," weaving around its museum-like displays an ambitious meditation on reticence, art, death and obstinate eternity. Though Fulton tells us that "The natural is what/ poetry contests," her gift for phrasemaking lets her sound spontaneous even in her most surprising claims. Like Heather McHugh and Albert Goldbarth, this midcareer poet wins, and will go on winning, plaudits for her intellectual agility, for the stamina of her book-length projects and for the warm ethic at their core. (Apr.)

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