Scaffolding

Eléna Rivera. Princeton Univ., $17.95 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-0-691-17226-2
Rivera (The Perforated map) takes the actions of writing—craft, revision, the plumbing and re-examining of memories—and moves them to the fore in this collection of variations on the sonnet. She regularly employs an idiosyncratic 11-syllable line, which disrupts the form’s pentameter and gives the book a sense of rushing forward at all times, perhaps in “a desire/ to meet the poem’s density.” The collection is written around New York City, but a sense of place arises predominantly in such transitional spaces as the subway—areas where there are no permanent inhabitants. Memories, though, garner a sense of place as well as scenery: at one point her speaker remarks, “All memories are seas and words thicken them.” The book’s unifying themes are found in the sonnet form and the constant conversations with (and riffs on) the works of numerous writers past and present. The poems’ titles follow a chronology, yet they often jump backward into memory, returning wistfully back into the present: “The spiral, the scent is now no longer here/ but emotions make museums of our thoughts.” By repeatedly returning to the same images and allowing the reader to witness her revisions, Rivera turns a process-oriented work into one with depth and feeling. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/17/2016
Release date: 11/01/2016
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 104 pages - 978-0-691-17225-5
Open Ebook - 104 pages - 978-1-4008-8338-7
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