Collected Poems

Lynda Hull, Author, Yusef Komunyakaa, Introduction by . Graywolf $15 (233p) ISBN 978-1-55597-457-2

By the time of her 1994 death, Hull, then 40, had already inspired a sect of admirers; her third and best book, the posthumous The Only World (1995), made sure the admiration would last. A teen runaway from Newark who struggled with heroin during the 1970s, Hull tried to mix the late-Romantic fire of Hart Crane, realist detail and the seductiveness of jazz. Hull painted her natal city as "just one big hockshop" with its grilled storefronts amid "intangible empires of fear and regret, sudden/ crests of tenderness," while a tribute to doomed trumpeter Chet Baker asked, "Why court the brink & then step back?" Hull's earlier verse examines her parents' troubled lives and their East European immigrant heritage; later, wilder, better poems confront her own rough past, a "dizzy trip through the ripped underside of things." The seven-part "Suite for Emily" remembers a girl Hull knew, now dead from AIDS, on Newark's "carnivorous streets," contrasting the friend of her youth to Emily Dickinson; a Prague verse travelogue offers praise "for/ everything damned, for everything human & lovely." Hull may not have discovered a whole new style, but her passion, and her power to depict emotional extremes, justifies the high regard in which she is held. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 10/16/2006
Release date: 10/01/2006
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