California Sorrow

Mary Kinzie, Author . Knopf $25 (93p) ISBN 978-0-307-26680-4

Kinzie's strong opinions, fierce emotions and serious attention both to visual details and to philosophical claims have won attention both for her poetry (Drift ) and ambitiously minatory literary criticism (The Judge Is Fury ). Readers familiar with her devotion to poems as decisive wholes may be surprised by the ways her new poems look and feel like constellations of fragments, phrases and sentences scattered all over a big, wide, airy page. Yet, the mood can be grim: the titular sequence makes a star, and a tragic figure, out of Emily Hale, T.S. Eliot's friend and correspondent, who may, or may not, have waited decades for a marriage proposal from Ol' Possum that never came. Another sequence, “The Poems I Am Not Writing,” incorporates some verse and lots of prose: “Poems have entered my being,” Kinzie confesses, “only after a stupor of watching” a life imagined as a mineral ore, all “hard and serious.” Crisp and harsh, full of self-accusation, remembering “wistful hours/ of self-righteous/ need,” Kinzie's collection has few unambiguous joys; it offers, instead, the pleasures of attention, of a writer willing to smash her poems to smithereens and then rebuild them as she attempts to meet her own stringent demands. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 08/20/2007
Release date: 09/01/2007
Open Ebook - 87 pages - 978-0-307-49429-0
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