At Night

Lisa Ciccarello. Black Ocean (SPD, dist.), $14.95 trade paper (72p) ISBN 978-1-939568-09-0
Incantatory, ruthless, and seductive, the poems in Ciccarello's debut roam a vast and timeless dark. More than a time of day, night represents the environment, mood, and the aesthetic and emotional qualities around which each poem coalesces. Beginning with action spun from intimacy and violence, where "I show you the back of my neck & you spit in your hand," Ciccarello deals in clear, forceful declarations that turn vulnerable and mysterious as they accrue. Duplicity and concealment govern the transactions both between people and within them: "I got an eye that speaks its mind but a body that does what it's told." This variance extends to the nature of description in the poems—which often outline a single thing, be it the moon, a house, a crime, an experience of desire, or nighttime itself—such that description has not pinned its object but made it multiple and shape-shifting. Even darkness, abiding and total throughout the book, takes on endlessly varied sounds, whether "like being underwater" or "the warble & the scrape of feather on bark" or "the sound of a man talking low, of a shoe going on, the sound of a heel in the street." From traditions of the folkloric and the lyric, Ciccarello offers a strange and commanding poetry of atmosphere. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 06/01/2015
Release date: 04/01/2015
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