cover image Infanta


Erin Belieu. Copper Canyon Press, $12 (80pp) ISBN 978-1-55659-101-3

Selected for the National Poetry Series by Hayden Carruth, Belieu's first book achieves a delicate balance between personal experience and the observation of others'; each perspective doubles in power by being reflected in its opposite. Though laced through with fierce words and harsh subjects, these poems contain a gentleness that leans toward lyricism. After fending off an attempted rape, the speaker sees her attacker walking away, a ``pathetic silhouette.'' The poet searches for sensuality in a wide assortment of voices: one speaker finds beauty in simply being able ``to fit/ the curve your body questions,'' while in a fairy-tale poem ``Rose Red,'' a young woman contrives to lie with a bear ""innocently/ at first, then not so, curled behind him,/ running her thumbnail down his spine.'' With offhanded rhyme and specific forms, e.g., a rondeau, Belieu enhances the effect of her poems' highly original content. (May)