The Needle

Jennifer Grotz, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $23 (80p) ISBN 978-0-547-44412-3
In the title poem of Grotz's second collection, "Memory meticulously stitches/ The market square." The square is in Krakow, a setting which dominates the book's first section, and the tone is a detached, patient recollection: "The city would begin as slowly as the old man in a brown fedora." There are storms, winds, summer days, "a weather system of people" as well as religious icons and street musicians. Childhood memories swirl through the book's second section, where several poems eulogize the poet's deceased brother, "something no one could tame." Here the languid summer of Krakow has become an ominous heat, as in "Landscape with Arson": "Invisible by day, fire's little shards, its quiet dissemination." The poet asks, "how/ do you set fire to the past?" and also "What is it to be human? To forge connection,/ to make interpretations of fire." Despite the fraught subject matter, the mood of these poems remains calm, the rhythm of the lines not hurried by any dramatic enjambments or eccentric syntax. Grotz writes in whole sentences, with a prose logic. By the book's close, memory is not a stitching but "that museum... inventoried in opposition to the present." (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 12/20/2010
Release date: 03/01/2011
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 80 pages - 978-0-547-54911-8
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