Proses: Selected Essays, Reviews, and Conversations

Carolyn Kizer, Author Copper Canyon Press $12 (208p) ISBN 978-1-55659-045-0
Were this collection of memoirs, essays and brief reviews written by anyone less than a Pulitzer Prize winner, it would fade quickly into blessed obscurity. Kizer ( Mermaids in the Basement ) begins with a flat, ungrammatical genealogical sketch that reads like a first draft. Unable to string four paragraphs together without inserting an aside, she drones on about her family's history and her own unremarkable life. Other pieces fare a little better, if only because their subjects are of more interest. But her comments about other poets are usually self-referential, and limited as a result. Thus, in writing of Robinson Jeffers, she begins: ``My parents nearly named me Tamar,'' and we learn later that ``The first poems I ever wrote, on the cusp of my teens, were full of spondees,'' after which she questions if she might have learned these cadences from reading Jeffers. In many of the shorter pieces on contemporary poets (Marge Piercy, James Merrill, Carolyn Forche), she attempts to camouflage her lack of insight with extensive quotes from their works. Other times she falls back on anecdotes, such as her daughter's meeting Gary Snyder in Japan. The majority of readers won't care, and if Kizer has the language skills to make us care, they certainly aren't in evidence. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1992
Release date: 07/01/1993
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