cover image At the Site of Inside Out -Jp

At the Site of Inside Out -Jp

Anna Rabinowitz. University of Massachusetts Press, $14.95 (88pp) ISBN 978-1-55849-093-2

Rabinowitz's skillful debut collection was selected by the publisher as the winner of its 1996 Juniper Prize. Working with a wide array of formal resources, Rabinowitz is strongest when she examines (and re-examines) such subjects of human experience as gender, aging and the significance of things ordinary and extraordinary. She employs strings of deft, declarative sentences, as in ""Lost and Found"": ""The fact is the child did not need to learn about loss./ No one left because no one came./ When she wanted company, two ghosts/ posed in a yellowed, deckle-edged/ sepia blur spoke to her from a life/ she knew nothing of."" Other poems use lists to evoke personality. In ""Mixed Media,"" the poet lists the contents of her dead father's collections: ""From drawers, pockets, from, the corners/ of deeds, he gathered fistfuls of Cracker Jack charms,/ bobbins, cloud-flecked marbles, the core of an apple,/ Five and Dime rings, a nosegay of needles."" An elegant paean for marginalia, ""Anthem"" offers line after line of praise for: ""threadbare rugs, unknotted tufts, loop and cut pile murals shunted/ from warp and weft to bear witness in the yard sales of round after/ noons."" While Rabinowitz ventures into many formal thickets in this volume, it is in such litanies that she hits her most powerful stride, setting a foreground teeming with the specificity of daily life against a more blurry background of human longing and emotion. (May)