The Nerve of It: Poems New and Selected

Lynn Emanuel. Univ. of Pittsburgh, $16.95 trade paper (144p) ISBN 978-0-8229-6369-1
Emanuel’s work (Noose and Hook), in the new and previously collected poems presented here in an original sequence, displays all the qualities of an outgoing personality: direct, confident, vivacious, and generous to the reader. It’s an original turn; the arc is nonchronological and reads as a single, independent text that makes clear the central concerns in her work and shows the development of various aesthetic and thematic tracks. The collection begins with Emanuel’s most straightforwardly autobiographical poems and moves through her increasing interest in the slippery qualities of narrative. Poems of portraiture and place begin to include meditations on mortality and decay, attend to abstracted qualities of identity and intimacy, in homages to Baudelaire, O’Hara, Stein, Whitman, and Berrigan. While in much of her writing the writer is “like a ship plated with the armor of experience,/ nosing the seas which are its seas,” there is also “the call to rise out of the trance of myself/ into the surcease of the dying world.” Emanuel’s uninhibited manner and her noir sensibilities are constants, especially the finely wrought use of melodrama and the erotic. New readers will gain a strong sense of Emanuel’s poetics, and those familiar with her work will see old poems in a new light as their shifted contexts draw out new resonances. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/20/2015
Release date: 08/01/2015
Genre: Fiction
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