Apology for Want

Mary Jo Bang, Author University Press of New England $13.95 (80p) ISBN 978-0-87451-822-1
There is a hush to this collection, winner of the 1996 Bakeless Prize for first books of poetry sponsored by the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. Bang asserts that ""want"" is insistently silent and always on the verge of being articulated. But, being a poet, she has to articulate--or at least go through the motions, which she does by favoring couplets or triplets to provide a featherlike touch. In ""Gretel,"" a retelling of the Hansel and Gretel tale, Gretel addresses her mother: ""You know we were never meant/ to live here, only to learn relinquished,// forsworn, to grasp with wet hands the cold/ metal of life, then find a way to let go."" Bang creates a sense of being scrubbed clean down to the barest elements: ""Tomorrow we will arrive wearing a white dress,/ dark hair, clean hands. A knock will deliver us."" What's enjoyable about the collection is a nice tension between the clarity of form and the open-endedness of Bang's articulated emotion. Her lines may be clean, but they exert no tyranny of meaning and so invite a second reading. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/30/1997
Release date: 07/01/1997
Hardcover - 80 pages - 978-0-87451-821-4
Ebook - 80 pages - 978-1-61168-143-7
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