THE WHITE EYELASH
The follow-up to Kinsolving's widely praised Dailies & Rushes (1999) finds the poet remembering her troubled mother, concentrating on visual detail or pursuing light-verse forms and verbal games with a demotically highbrow, casual grace. The most memorable new poems concern a mother whose mental illness made the poet's teen years hard; with a conversational feel that belies her lines' painful facts, Kinsolving describes her mother's decline into dementia, her last months in hospitals and nursing homes, and the mysteries that remain: near death, the mother "shouts, I hope you get arrested for having everything/ your own way! And now, neither of us knows what to say." These poems have the virtues, and defects, of straightforward memoir, focusing more on events and feelings than on verbal detail. Straightforward autobiographical lyrics also take up a daughter (now adult) and travel (the Isle of Skye). Kinsolving shows more delight, however, in the less personal stand-alone poems with which the volume begins and ends. Her light verse includes run-on couplets, a villanelle, lyrics for a cantata about astronomy and some in-jokes (including a purported e-mail from Emily Dickinson); these last shade into Kinsolving's more serious, elegiac verse, focused on lost creatures and lost things, from endangered species to forgotten poems. Often organized around colors ("gray graphite," blood, deep snow) these poems show a love for beauty and a casual line reminiscent of Eamon Grennan's. Kinsolving takes care to reflect "other worlds, other lives, what is not/ true, kaleidoscope turning, changing points of view." (Oct.)
Correction: In the Oct. 6 PW , the title of Louise Erdrich's new poetry collection was misstated; it is Original Fire.