cover image Ruining the Picture

Ruining the Picture

Pimone Triplett. Triquarterly Books, $18 (83pp) ISBN 978-0-8101-5087-4

Preoccupied by questions of textual transmission and corruption, the poems in this confident first collection grasp at evasive fragments of larger cultural myths, and those myths we make for ourselves. Would-be refrains break off, partial, as in the tripartite ""Branch Between the Bones,"" where the line ""Happens because he wanted to move forward,"" erodes to ""Happened because he wanted to move,"" becomes, ""Happened because he wanted to,"" and, finally, ""Happened because he wanted."" A strong interest in the personal narrative--located, for Triplett, in her grandfather's Bangkok--runs through several poems, adding an element of exoticism (in form as well as diction) that most often leads to the inevitable lizards and teak. More central is Triplett's strength as a crafter of dramatic monologues, akin to the brilliant classical channelings of H.D. and Louise Gluck, which comes through in mythic mainstays like ""Dido to Aeneas from Below,"" ""The Siren,"" ""Tiresias to Penelope"" and Eve's retort to the archangel in ""Fractal Audition."" There, the well-tread subject matter throws the boldness of these voices into bas-relief. Though the poet's Romantic wistfullness for the unrecoverable sometimes verges on sentimentality, the poems of this adroit debut restore even as they ruin, recast as they recall. (Nov.)