cover image The Wanton Sublime

The Wanton Sublime

Anna Rabinowitz, . . Tupelo, $16.95 (94pp) ISBN 978-1-932195-39-2

The editor of American Letters and Commentary , Rabinowitz investigates the mysteries, myths and cultural accretions around the Virgin Mary in this third collection; Mary becomes, in these rapt and provocative poems, both a symbol of ecstatic transcendence and a focus for questions about gender and power. Drawing eclectically on forms from rhyming quatrains to e. e. cummingsesque typography, Rabinowitz reimagines the Annunciation as a "Manysplendoredmoonmottledmarvel of the metaphysical," presenting a Virgin "entrapped/ and captive," "disarmed/ by angels/ a heart unarmed/ in evernow," insisting in dramatic capitals that angelic "LIGHT NEED NOT BE EXPLAINED." She places Mary in a tradition of mystics from Pythagoras and Greek myths to Catholic saints, leavening her paeans and chants with references to skeptics such as Michel de Montaigne. Rabinowitz's technique can be extravagant, but it may be the only way to do justice to the extreme emotions and ambitions she describes: "And with her YES a future world takes shape." (Mar.)