cover image Counterpart


Elizabeth Robinson. Ahsahta (SPD, dist.), $17.50 trade paper (112p) ISBN 978-1-934103-34-0

In Robinson's most recent collection, "identical merges with identity." Written in airy, magnetic language, the poet explores "bifurcations of the self," layers of self and language that we fear to confront because of their sinister, unpredictable traits. The collection's eight sections are separated by epigraph-like fragments from other voices that reverberate in Robinson's own poems. "Sanctuary," blurs two selves. The thief and the victim become the same: "do you mind, she asked,/ if I steal a bit from you." This phrase changes, becomes "murmured to myself," and then the meanings of the words shift: "bit as in bite," pulling the rug of meaning from under our feet. Language, in Robinson's hands, is unstable, warped, and deceptive. Her poems roll over and over in quickly changing permutations: "the frail opening from/ ration to rational." Like Narcissus crashing into the lake to capture his other self, "how better to translate," Robinson writes, "than to destroy." (Sept.)