cover image Whirlwind


Sharon Dolin. Univ. of Pittsburgh, $15.95 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-0-8229-6221-2

The latest from Dolin (Burn and Dodge) departs from her previous work in its forceful sadness, and in the unity of its themes: everything in it examines Dolin's divorce, the end of her marriage, her husband's affair, her anger and self-isolation, or, in the closing sheaf of poems, her new lover and their erotic rebirth. Consistent venom, recurrent bleak humor, and an overt awareness of precedent inspire Dolin's variety of forms: a litany, a ghazal, Dantesque unrhymed narrative tercets ("To the Furies Who Visited Me in the Basement of Duane Reade"), syllabics in homage to Marianne Moore, step-down lines like William Carlos Williams's, and a volume-ending tribute to Federico Garcia Lorca ("Blue how you'll ride me blue"). One of the best pieces builds up a lattice of puns: "When I lacked/ desire my love unlatched// his key from me and soon/ I lacked a lackey. Deserted,/ unstirred, to no sir inured." Despite all these stratagems, though, the collection can feel more like a prose memoir than poetry: "Why is it I feel shame for his having left?" one page begins. Some readers may be disappointed by Dolin's directness; others may see themselves in her travails, and find both delight and relief. (Sept.)