Felt: Poems

Alice Fulton, Author W. W. Norton & Company $22 (92p) ISBN 978-0-393-04882-7
A dizzying tapestry of essayistic, digressive and lyrical poems held together by a few symbols and obsessions, this ""felt""is fabric and feeling, the colors white and gray, the ""eco-speak"" of botany and chemistry, the figure of Emily Dickinson, and the artistically laden symbols of a blank canvas and a fan. Fulton (Sensual Math) composes multi-page poems out of ever-expanding sentences, stretching her phrases like tightropes over the vast reaches of information: ""Each line braves rejection/ of the every, edits restless/ all into a space that's still/ the space of least commitment, distilling/ latitudes in draft."" The book's governing whites come to represent (among other things) fear, certainty, metaphysical absolutes, virginity, youth, and artistic perfection; these play off against the mixed shades of everyday life in works for which ""nothing is separate, the entire planet/ being an unexpected example."" In ""About Music for Bone and Membrane Instrument"" a fan's ""pink folds and pleats,/ handheld compressions, corrugations of/ recluse, release"" stands for the twists and turns in Fulton's own lines; ""It isn't simplicity that epiphanizes me"" (she writes elsewhere), ""it's/ saturation."" A poem about Joan Mitchell's painting White Territory stands out for its subtlety and seriousness; memorable elegies for a female relative (perhaps the speaker's mother) find Fulton having ""to feel// the unaesthetic everything twist through my head."" As before, Fulton's works sometimes seem stagy or overlong--less composed than performed, with both eyes on her audience; nevertheless, this may be Fulton's best book: it is at once accessible and ambitious, evasive and informative, consistently curious, and, yes, strongly felt. (Jan.) Forecast: A Macarthur ""genius"" grant winner who has long taught at the University of Michigan, Fulton's position in the poetry world seems assured. The book may be handsold to fans of Anne Carson and Graham; a career-assessing review in a major publication would broaden Fulton's audience.
Reviewed on: 01/01/2001
Release date: 01/01/2001
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 92 pages - 978-0-393-32236-1
Open Ebook - 104 pages - 978-0-393-07952-4
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