Loom

Sarah Gridley. Omnidawn (IPG, dist.), $17.95 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-1-890650-78-0
Gridley’s evocative, romantic, three-part collection weaves its own myths and phrases loosely around Tennyson’s poem “The Lady of Shalott,” about a lady in a castle and who gazes into a mirror waiting for Sir Lancelot; for Gridley (Green Is the Orator) the Lady is a poet, a muse, a spirit of history, a symbol for mind itself, “looking out in the way of a radius—that specified distance from a center in all directions—looking out with the aspect of making that distance known.” Gridley’s phrases envision fairies: “One rushes a shade plant for the end of a sorrow. One derived a forest from pendant ghosts.” Those sentences reflect the lyrical and essayistic prose blocks in the middle of the book, where detachable segments consider the mating habits of spiders and the resemblances between coffin and boat. Before and after the prose, Gridley places short units of spell-like verse, featuring forests and mirrors, tidal spaces “like the slang for living sea urchins” and white space where “the imaginary world seems promised here.” The Lady’s, or Gridley’s, lines can at times feel labored or showy, but can also invite us in-: “The woods feel best/ when barely raining, when talking scarcely resumes// in the greater space/ of holding still.” (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/21/2013
Release date: 04/01/2013
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