Curios: Poems

Judith Taylor, Author
Judith Taylor, Author Sarabande Books $12.95 (71p) ISBN 978-1-889330-45-7
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Clothing, makeup, accessories and disguises make for all sorts of meaning in a debut that can unpackchildhood, art and geography from within adult appearance: ""My heart pumped roadways to mother-love, to globe-love, to Saks Fifth Avenue."" Curios includes 60 poems; the longest contains 11 lines. Since every line of every poem is a separate unit (a sentence or sentence-fragment), and the beat is always down, many poems feel end-stopped rather than finished. Throughout, costume is substituted for emotions or gestures, as well as for status: ""Though I wore a green silk dress, I don't think he ever found me""; ""Lusting after the same man, a friend and I bought identical red suede pumps""; ""I wanted her to wear a large bird or bathtub on her head, to prove she was my mother."" The slightness and whimsy of the curiosity cabinet contrasted with a distressed character playing dress-up may have been the goal here, but the book as a whole lacks the multiple levels of meaning that gives such mock-trifles depth. At best, Taylor makes quirky mind-music when one line strikes neatly off the one before it: ""Water's a kind of architecture you can step in and out of--but only sometimes./ Once in school I was instructed not to speak for a week."" (Apr.)
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