Unbeknownst

Julie Hanson, Univ. of Iowa, $17 trade paper (84p) ISBN 978-1-58729-964-3
The Cedar Rapids, Iowa, native is older than most first-time authors, and her frequently—even disarmingly—conversational poems draw on experience: she writes as a daughter, a spouse, a mother, an adoptee, a friend, a traveler, a practitioner of yoga, and as an observer of gardens, kitchens, food. Yet many poets have taken on such domestic subjects, and done so (like Hanson) with sophistication (Hanson quotes Seneca, rewrites Sappho, includes a deft ghazal): what sets her apart? First of all, her winning wisdom, her genuinely good advice, proffered garrulously ("I'd rather have/ the kind of marriage where nothing is pre-sorted or arranged for presentation,/ where the plates, be they china or everyday, are set out without pretense") or else through a terse tableau: "The female cardinal isn't the least bit/ disappointed that the shade of red she is is brown./ She looks at him and thinks, Aren't we gorgeous?" Second, her remarkable variety: here are poems made entirely of maxims, poems made from anecdotes, poems made of fragments, slow-motion free verse, even a rapid prose poem; here, too, are a panoply of tones, almost all friendly, hopeful, nostalgic, patient, delighted, or sad. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/21/2011
Release date: 03/01/2011
Genre: Fiction
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