Love and Scorn: New and Selected Poems

Carol Frost, Author
Carol Frost, Author Northwestern University Press $16.95 (130p) ISBN 978-0-8101-5099-7
Reviewed on: 04/03/2000
Release date: 04/01/2000
Hardcover - 130 pages - 978-0-8101-5098-0
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Saturated in ""viscera, anatomy,"" in chthonic desires, mythic parallels and ""overwhelming regret,"" Frost's (Venus and Don Juan; Pure) headlong free verse displays an admirable energy, but not much formal or intellective control in this selection from seven previous books, and in two groups of new short poems. Seeking rawness and power, Frost turns to readily available stories--Genesis, The Tempest--and to other American poets who've shared her ambitions: sometimes she fails to build on her borrowed foundations; often, she fails to escape melodrama: ""I've grieved and walked in catacombs,"" one speaker declares, ""I've made myself ill with the power and the glory."" (In another poem, ""Burdock"" explains ""I'm here... to tell you there is satisfaction, even when I die."") Elsewhere, in the manner of the later Robert Penn Warren, Frost deploys fortissimo religious symbolism: figures meant for immediate shock or sublimity (""young murderers on last night's news/ went like angry angels... as if to mock the eternal Coming""), words like ""extraordinary,"" ""unsayable"" and ""death and joy."" A long sequence of 11-line poems with abstract titles returns to categorical basics such as ""Harm,"" ""Apology,"" ""Envy,"" ""Sex,"" ""Imagination"" and ""The Tree of Knowledge, your favorite scene"": their loping, extended, abstract and unrhymed phrases will appeal to fans of C.K. Williams. If few whole poems satisfy their formal demands, many include striking bits and pieces: it will be hard to forget the key moment in ""Sin,"" for instance, when ""The blue and scarlet sky/ was gently losing its color,// as if from use."" (Mar.)
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