Outremer: Poems

Bill Knott, Author University of Iowa Press $0 (61p) ISBN 978-0-87745-254-6
This ambitious and intellectually aggressive collection does not aim for easy enlightenment. Knott's ( Becos ) cryptic, allusive verse is fecund in nuance and implication, frequently focusing on the external world as a reflection of the inner life. In these poems, whose persona is often obscured, the distance between ethical observation and emotional response is blurred in such a way that each element intensifies the other. Experimental and rigorously precise, the syntax of these pieces fractures convention, re-creating the complex. Considering aesthetic integrity in the face of rejection, the speaker maintains, ``I cling to virgin, this veil scrape(d) surface / Where our scars are an armor of absence / What knight attains: ignore / that pig-bladder matter, life, that failure / Dangled in whiskey like a longshot tooth.'' Knott's manipulations of diction and structure afford a powerful intimacy and striking originality. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989
Release date: 01/01/1989
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