The sixth full-length from the still-underrated Becker (The Horse Fair, 2000) uses sustained attention and deceptively quiet language to delve skillfully into familiar topics: Jewish heritage, lesbian culture, generational succession, and the ambivalent legacy of the Sixties. Describing her path from a radical youth to middleage , Becker's verse remains careful and clear, much like Philip Levine's in its sense of how poems ought to work (and Becker is at least as good a technician). Domestic objects and incidents-the obsolete laundry gadget called a mangle, the contents of a disused drawer-provide subjects and reasons for recollection: outsider artists (such as Donald Evans, who drew imaginary stamps) give her reason for elegiac praise. Becker's few forays into closed forms (a pantoun, for example) display all the craft they require, never turning away from their subjects. Her free verse lines can grow pleasantly prickly, or even grim: ""Against Pleasure"" warns beachgoers about ""jellyfish for the rest of the summer/ and the ozone layer full of holes."" Celebrations of amity and of erotic love counterpoint such sad reminders: a poem about a grand flood projects ""a waterproof optimism, hoping to run into a few friends/ who'd taken the rain into their own hands and gone pelagic.""
Reviewed on: 07/31/2006 Release date: 07/01/2006 Genre: