cover image The Garden Room

The Garden Room

Joy Katz, . . Tupelo, $9.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-1-932195-36-1

With titles like "The Made Bed" and "Junk Drawer," the 30 poems that make up Katz's brief and cohesive second collection (winner of Tupelo's Snowbound chapbook award) form a sequence that examines—using psychologically telling description and imaginative reportage—the ways the objects in a room do and do not reveal the lives of those who live there. Speaking to and for household objects as well as an assortment of domesticated flowers, and harking back to Elizabeth Bishop's prose poem "12 O'clock News" and perhaps Louise Glück's The Wild Iris , Katz (Fabulae , 2002) makes the bedroom a crenellated emotional meeting and battle ground, where self meets self, lover meets lover, and self meets other. A bunch of daffodils is "a hole in the room I could thread myself through"; the bed "is a highway between us." By turns surreal and direct, and sometimes cast in compact stanzas, sometimes gently slanted across the page, these poems also study the lives of the objects themselves, whether or not we give them that life: window sills are the "lips of the house," and a desk chair "gives in to day." Over the course of this subtle collection, Katz builds a quietly moving story about the complexities of love and domesticity. (Nov.)