cover image Her Wilderness Will Be Her Manners

Her Wilderness Will Be Her Manners

Sarah Mangold. Fordham Univ., $19.95 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-0-8232-9770-2

“What interested me was/ the way ladies survive/ as acknowledgements/ in other people’s prefaces,” Mangold (Giraffes of Devotion) writes early in her exploratory fourth collection. Indeed, the book-length poem, which features several photographs, has gender as its principal theme and preoccupation as she explores “woman’s work” through naturalism and taxidermy in the American Museum of Natural History. The book occasionally mimics the form of placards or labels on museum displays, one page simply stating: “Method of Pinching a Butterfly// Manner of Skinning an Elephant.” Other times, the list form is used in these untitled poems, “Delia Reiss Akeley (first wife) Appearance of Bill buffalo hunting divorces elephant hunting illnesses marriage breakup of marriage pet monkey interest in primates see Kirinyaga expedition// Reluctant Pioneers and Gentle Tamers.” Occasionally, the syntax and sense of the line gets muddled, and the reader is at risk of losing track of its meaning: “I kept hold of my departing senses/ doubt cast and describer suspected/ so much to be remembered by hereafter.” Though this poetry is not traditionally lyrical and occasionally bends heavily toward nonfiction, Mangold’s project and ambition are admirable, and readers who enjoy experimental, genre-bending, collage-like poetry will find themselves enthralled. (Sept.)