King Baby

Lia Purpura, Author . Alice James $14.95 (64p) ISBN 978-1-882295-68-5

Purpura's charming and mystifying third collection comprises a book-length sequence of attentive, rapturous untitled poems, most of them addressed to the titular figure, who becomes alternately a found doll, a missing child, a spiritual representative of childhood and a real infant to whom the poet gave birth. Purpura (On Looking ) captures both the fierce love and the flighty weirdness of life with a baby, opting always for the symbolic and the surprising over the literal record: “Come. It's my birthday,” she writes, addressing both her readers, and her baby. “Make me over/ into a thing a tree could use, like light to drink.” Though some readers may feel lost, others should welcome how winter weather, fairy tale scenes and moments of bafflement (“You with a block of ice in your head”) keep Purpura unpredictable. One of the quieter, sweeter segments compares the poet-as-mother to a builder of playgrounds and to a bowerbird: “I went out for a walk to find a blue boat,” she says, “to remind you of home and having to go/ beyond the known, I did not find a boat/ but more blue things than I thought abound.” (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 04/21/2008
Release date: 04/01/2008
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