Afterimages: Poems

Cathryn Hankla, Author Louisiana State University Press $26.95 (54p) ISBN 978-0-8071-1684-5
The poetry in this volume encompasses two extremes: complex poems that seek to reconcile primordial truths with emotional ephemera, and simpler pieces that tell mawkish stories of growing up, losing love and getting older. In the former, Hankla's language is contorted, purely, it seems, for the sake of poetic pretension. In a poem about life changes and the passing of time, the poet writes: ``So what / is it . . . that you want / . . . to become? Tell the inside out / of the wish you began with / before the real dream caked / your eyes with sleep.'' The more accessible poems expose the dullness of Hankla's vision: two pieces are loving but unaffecting tributes to family members; others addressing romantic love are flat and lifeless. Only in two poems alluding to the work of Vermeer does Hankla's ( Phenomena ) skill as a wordsmith and imagist shine forth. She puts thoughts in the mind of the subject of one of the painter's masterpieces, to poignant effect: ``I write to tell you I am alive. / What else is there? All the devils / you see in the air mean nothing-- / this you know, so I write to assure you / you are not mistaken.'' (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/30/1991
Release date: 10/01/1991
Paperback - 64 pages - 978-0-8071-1685-2
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