Bears Dancing in the Northern Air

Christiane Jacox Kyle, Author, Christiane J. Kyle, Author, James Dickey, Foreword by Yale University Press $17 (72p) ISBN 978-0-300-05007-3
Dickey, introducing his choice for the 86th volume of the Yale Series of Younger Poets, singles out Kyle's ``clear, clean, and highly personal mysticism, the quiet and balance of her imagination, and her ability to articulate both sourced and sourceless joy.''xiv The best of Kyle's poems show her desire to speak a primal tongue, ``a language from before the moon / tore itself from the earth''2 (from ``The Second Language''). Her collection invokes a vast space in which cosmic elements--sun, snow, sea, wind--predominate. These enrich life, as when the speaker in ``Oracle,'' driving all night, rediscovers the primitive: ``I explore the sky. I begin / with the first word. I name it Fear,''6 or when a strolling woman in ``Night Walk at Thirty'' realizes, ``there is nothing to return to that hasn't been / made holy.''21 In another elegiac poem, ``Dialogue in Jordan, Montana,''31 an archetypal man and woman succumb to a harsh nature. Although Kyle's elevated, spare style is usually successful, sometimes her mythic imagery seems trite, as in a line of ``The Name of This Day'': ``Blood grows strong as it flowers toward death.''48 (June)
Reviewed on: 04/29/1991
Release date: 05/01/1991
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