The Master Letters: Poems

Lucie Brock-Broido, Author
Lucie Brock-Broido, Author Alfred A. Knopf $21 (0p) ISBN 978-0-679-44174-8
Reviewed on: 10/02/1995
Release date: 10/01/1995
Paperback - 96 pages - 978-0-679-76599-8
Ebook - 122 pages - 978-0-307-55782-7
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-299-00470-2
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Three mysterious letters (two beginning ``Dear Master'') written by Emily Dickinson and discovered after her death are the starting point for Brock-Broido's (A Hunger) second collection. The 52 works in this extended tribute echo many of Dickinson's stylistic and formal devices and often exhibit a similar stance toward their subjects. The poems are celebrations of language, often contorting words and syntax into surprising new shapes, at their best (e.g., ``The Supernatural Is Only The Natural, Disclosed'') playing in the mind like music, with a meaning and beauty that outreach literal comprehension: ``I'm listening/ to the fluorescent light come on/ In April, flinging a hot white scarf/ Across a month mottled by the chemicals/ Of eastern standard time.'' At their weakest, the works are self-consciously literary, overstuffed with allusion and reference. But Brock-Broido is clearly a kindred spirit to the Belle of Amherst, an audacious writer possessed of a grave intensity, as in the prose piece ``Haute Couture Vulgarity'': ``I have too much of the martyr, would set myself ablaze--just for the bright light of the fire, a curiosity, for a cause if I had one, a Flame.'' This is a brave collection; challenging, sometimes difficult, ambitious and relentless in its experimentation with language and form. (Oct.)
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