cover image Decreation: Poetry, Essays, Opera

Decreation: Poetry, Essays, Opera

Anne Carson, . . Knopf, $24.95 (272pp) ISBN 978-1-4000-4349-1

In 13 intricately related, supple and confident works in verse and prose, eminent poet and classicist Carson (Autobiography of Red ) takes on the meaning and function of sleep; the art and attitudes of Samuel Beckett; the last days of an elderly mother; guns; a solar eclipse; "Longing, a Documentary"; the films of Michelangelo Antonioni; and the vexing, paradoxical projects of women mystics, among them Simone Weil and the medieval heretic Marguerite Porete. Porete, Sappho and others are subjects for brilliant prose essays. The volume's unusual length, though, comes mostly from one-act operas, closet dramas, and other work with stage or film components. "The Mirror of Simple Souls," a short opera and artist's book about Porete, already has an underground reputation: here it takes its place among other works for dramatic recital, including "Hunger Tango," "Stroke and Dye Aria" and a teasingly brief verse screenplay about Abelard, Heloïse and chickpeas. For all its variety, though, the strongest work in this strong collection may be the short, spiky, individual poems, which certainly provide the best single lines: "Your glassy wind breaks on a shoutless shore and stirs around the rose." (Sept.)