Kazimierz Square

Karen Chase, Author CavanKerry Press $14 (74p) ISBN 978-0-9678856-0-5
Poet, publisher and clinical psychologist Joan Cusack Handler (no relation to the Hollywood Cusacks) named the New Jersey-based CavanKerry after the two Irish counties from which her parents came. Chase's debut is the second title for the press, and it begins with poems set a bit further east, in Poland, where present-day peasants, poverty and mud suggest at once the logic of fairy-tale worlds and the specters of the Holocaust. All these realms merge in the title sequence, where the agitated poet imagines herself transformed to a ""brown-furred wild boar."" Chase's short lines and transient stanzas at once seek casual appeal and chiseled grace in a variety of styles and forms, and use them to talk about differing kinds of experience: poems about Italy don't sound like poems about Poland, and her pair of poems on a visit to Iceland adopt a starker attitude still. Other works, though, seem tossed off, dependent on simplistic concepts: ""The A B C of What I've Been Called"" zips through ""Baby, Buddy, Bitch and Babe"" before settling on ""Zena Block's daughter."" The late Amy Clampitt, in a short introduction, praises Chase's ""raw power,"" and the stark alertness and verbal clarity of the poems should attract fans of Marie Ponsot and Elizabeth Macklin, while her particular subjects may give her an audience broader still. It's an apt book for a press that aims to ""introduc[e] a literary audience to books that focus on both the aesthetic as well as the psychological impediments to the expression of voice."" (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 09/04/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
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