Luxury, Blue Lace

S. Brook Corfman. Autumn House, $17.95 trade paper (72p) ISBN 978-1-938769-36-8
Relying on abstraction and the unspoken, Corfman shapes a story of unique gender experience and transformation in this extraordinary debut. The collection was chosen by Richard Siken for the Autumn House Rising Writer Prize, which is notable because Corfman sews something delicate from a similarly dreamlike fabric of longing that Siken’s Crush embodies: “There is the imaginary twin (blue) and the real twin (red), as if we can know beforehand the distinction.// We shared a face. We both tried to hide. Each named slant for a patriarch.// Dysphoria of many kinds, but some more striking than others.” Corfman crafts the poems by talking through family, domesticity, dolls, and childhood baubles. While references to transmutation, of seeking alternative embodiment, are semiobscured, the narrator elucidates via a complex juncture of both acquiescence and resistance. “There are many rooms and you suffer most when you go between them. A tendency even in language to uninhabit. But now, we know there are rooms. We know it is the going from one to the other that takes it out of you.” Like Seurat’s painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, which Corfman references, readers may easily lose themselves in these poems’ own form of pointilism. Corfman writes from carefully detailed liminal spaces, producing a work of rare beauty and thoughtfulness. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 10/15/2018
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