cover image Lucifer at the Starlite

Lucifer at the Starlite

Kim Addonizio, . . Norton, $23.95 (89pp) ISBN 978-0-393-06852-8

Addonizio's gifts—clarity, wicked wit and directness about sex—remain on view in this, her fifth, collection, albeit with slightly diminishing returns. The Bay Area poet (What Is This Thing Called Love ) extracts humor from headlines, takes comfort in the everyday and manages both to celebrate and to decry her complicated sexual self: “My Heart, “she says, is “That initial-scarred tabletop,/ that tiny little dance floor... That dressing room in the fetish boutique... That funhouse, that horror, that soundtrack of screams.” Verse about modern love can push the bounds of the art, or of the unartful: poems try coyly “to say things/ disallowed from serious poetry/ and employ instead the lexicon of porn spam.” Such work can certainly entertain. Less happily, poems based on fairy tales land too close to their older model, Anne Sexton, and poems about public catastrophes (Hurricane Katrina, the Asian tsunami of 2004, the Iraq war) end up neither funny nor seriously powerful. Some of Addonizio's best poems ought to be popular—a counterpart, as it were, to chick lit fiction (“I lost you like that grape jawbreaker/ I'd saved for last”) and far better technically than many kindred poets. Fans of Addonizio's prior books will find much to like, but newcomers might do better with earlier volumes. (Sept.)