I Will Not Kick My Friends

Kathleen Winter. Elixir, $17 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-1-932418-65-1
Winter (Nostalgia for the Criminal Past) conducts a wide-ranging, expansive inquiry into her aesthetic sensibility, poetic roots, and the inevitable contradictions that occur within an artistic genealogy. This “strange dream” of a collection functions as a book-length sequence of persona-driven lyrics, in voices that include Biblical Eve’s paradisiacal deliberations, Arthur Rimbaud’s wild flights of the imagination, and Sylvia Plath’s articulate and prescient feminism. The end result is an incisive commentary on poetry as a kind of mythology, the Western canon revealed as a problematic historical document that nonetheless assumes an otherworldly grandeur. Yet Winter fully acknowledges the desire to situate oneself within this mythic tapestry, whether as a “Saint of Disobedient Girls,” a “Highly Sensitive Saint,” a “Saint of Labor,” or something else entirely. Winter engages deeply at the level of the line and in the intricacies of syntactical play as she mulls the ideas driving her project: “All the animals in the garden/ knew the score: Rat knew,/ Gnu knew, even Gnat/ knew Snake was telling me/ what to do.” The work’s intricate soundscape, charged alliteration, and recursive consonance heightens readers’ experience of a narrative of entrapment. The complexity and nuances of Winter’s thinking make this an accomplished addition to her elegant body of work. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 03/05/2018
Release date: 02/01/2018
Genre: Fiction
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