cover image Joie de Vivre: Selected Poems 1992–2012

Joie de Vivre: Selected Poems 1992–2012

Lisa Jarnot. City Lights (Consortium, dist.), $14.95 (112p) ISBN 978-0-87286-598-3

In this first retrospective of Jarnot’s work, language’s power to transform the self is, through repetition, enacted: “I am clinging to the baked goods and the liquor store, I am nearly Spanish and then nearly other things, I am cutting you with broken glass.” Balancing a honed, poised modern lyric with postmodern playfulness—in the vein of sometimes Stein (“tractor/ of chinchilla, chili of chinchilla, chill of the/ chinchilla, crosswalk of chinchilla of the dawn”), sometimes Stevens (“Inside of my inspection house there are/ things I am inside of lacking only linens/ and the tiniest of birds, there are small ideas/ of tiny birds and things they are inside of“)—it’s clear that Jarnot’s earlier multimedia poetic experiments inform later poems, where each word or phrase is treated as an ingredient, accruing potency in quantity, some acting as generative hooks, lengthening and deepening a poem’s breath (“how terrific it is to be/ misled inside a hallway, and how terrific it is/ to be the hallway as it stands inside the house”), others as fixed points to keep us, in the dizzying dream logic of these riveting, long-winded works, balanced. Reading this work is truly a joy. (May)