TWO AND TWO

Denise Duhamel, Author . Univ. of Pittsburgh $12.95 (126p) ISBN 978-0-8229-5871-0

People who never buy books of poetry will find a compelling reason to buy this one: at its center is a long poem constructed out of the e-mail detritus of 9/11, when citizens and survivors from all over the world poured their grief onto global listservs, as well as of news sound bites, bits of trauma-related classroom exercises, profiles of bin Laden and others, as well as elegies for the victims. Along with Michael Gottlieb's "The Dust," the poem, titled "Love Which Took Its Symmetry for Granted" is one of the few versifications of the tragedy and its aftermath that is genuinely affecting, switching among its many voices and discourses cleanly (if not seamlessly), and giving a sense of the poet's own attempts to come to terms with what has happened. The rest of the book is perfectly good, moving among familiar modes of high-low juxtaposition, childhood remembrance, workday challenge and wry pop cultural exploration with ease. A funny, touching prose poem about Duhamel's relationship with the poet Nick Carbó closes things out: "Duhamel has essentially erased all other women in Carbó's life but herself." A similar sense of depth dipped in whimsy pervades throughout; it's what saves Duhamel's elegiac bricolage from mawkishness. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 04/18/2005
Release date: 02/01/2005
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