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Laura Mullen, Author
Laura Mullen, Univ. of California, $22.95 trade paper (144p) ISBN 978-0-520-26886-9
Reviewed on: 01/17/2011
Release date: 03/01/2011
Portable Document Format (PDF) - 152 pages - 978-0-520-94825-9
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-283-27751-8
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Great losses define this big, challenging fourth collection from Mullen (After I Was Dead). There is the damage to New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, and the loss of Mullen's stepmother, a painter who died on a wilderness trek. Against these losses Mullen sets a brace of quotations and a bevy of clouds: poems called "Love (Stratus)," "Cloud Seeding: From a Journal," and "Stratocumulus" suggest the way she contemplates the sky, while quotation, in poem after poem, from William Wordsworth's "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" appears to ask whether old ways of writing can ever keep up with current grief. Mullen's self-aware, self-descriptive, abstract forms answer that last question with a no. Mullen must instead try very hard to make her texts new by making them self-conscious. Hence she offers multipage works that look half-erased or half-written, stanzaic poems whose traditional appearance belies their self-consuming angst ("The author is not lonely as a cad"), and prose poems that muse on the "Endless necessity of finding new words for exactly that shade and shape of nervous anger, that deflection of interest which, increasing, allows one to walk out... no disaster, just a failure to be there for each other, to be there." (Feb.)
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