Broken English) and a wide-range of translation (most recently, of Euripedes), McHugh here returns"/>

EYESHOT

Heather McHugh, Author . Wesleyan $20 (54p) ISBN 978-0-8195-6671-3

With an oeuvre that includes criticism (notably the 1993 volume Broken English) and a wide-range of translation (most recently, of Euripedes), McHugh here returns to her own signature bravura and obsessive word play, focussing on the struggle of eye and mind, brain and body, to mediate the exacting details of an exquisitely overwrought world: "The mind is made/ to discipline the eye so that the eye/ can aim the mind—or else..." In a state of near-constant overstimulation, the hyper-attentive intelligencer at times must struggle simply to stay afloat: "Sight... sponsors far/ too much detail (exhaustive is exhausting!)." McHugh scrutinizes the lewd and the illustrious alike with relentless attention and propulsive wit, the latter no less engaged when describing the brain collection at Cornell ("Grown in a bone bin, now not one of them/ can let go of the knot at its gut, the fruit/ of its last thought") than when parrying bawdily on the subject of a hanged man's erection, in "Goner's Boner." Sexual mishaps, infidelity and lust abound—as well as related riffs on aging and physical decline: "taste took/ time, it seemed, and so required the mind// to mind the tongue, stop being young,/ start being tired." McHugh's more metalinguistic reflections can be strained or too clever, but many poems avoid these pitfalls, probing language in a way that enhances (and seems inextricably linked to) scientific inquiry: "The body's fingernails were tinily inscribed/ with symbols, letterforms and ideograms, and all/ in exquisite detail. I looked and looked..." Yet what pushes this book even further are the moments when the speaker's sense of the stakes comes into focus: "In sight/ of the flicker of living./ In spite of the looking to die." (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 09/01/2003
Release date: 10/01/2003
Show other formats
FORMATS
Paperback - 64 pages - 978-0-8195-6672-0
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.