Swordfish Tooth

Cynthia Zarin, Author Alfred A. Knopf $9.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-679-72140-6
In her first book, Zarin, a staff writer at the New Yorker , finds her voice most surely in brief lyric poetry suffused with delicate metaphorical power. In ``Now,'' the poet uncovers the pristine potential at the heart of a dull momentinconspicuous, yet waiting in readiness. In ``Snail,'' a love poem, the speaker ``felt myself / close kin to the snail you found'' and, fascinated, observes its ``creeping'' progress over the body of her beloved. Like the snail, she is a ``cartographer of the mysterious / male life,'' and this culminating insight is dispassionately convincing. Such poetry is the work of a pure and steadfast sensibility. Yet Zarin's longer poems are less satisfying. Some, laden with description, imagery, clever allusions and diehard literary aspirations, surrender meaning to carefully negotiated form. An ambitious writer, Zarin might do well to strive less; sophistication, though never in question here, may not suffice as a poetic strength. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 12/01/1988
Release date: 12/01/1988
Hardcover - 978-0-394-56797-6
Hardcover - 64 pages - 978-0-394-57320-5
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