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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Great reviews of Femme

I'm very excited to have had three great reviews of my book, Femme au chapeau. The first one, by Terry Brown-Davidson, was published at The Pedestal. She called it "thrilling, one-of-a-kind poetry" and compared it to Wallace Stevens. I guess I thought it was a fluke of the kind the cosmos visits on you right before you take a giant pratfall. Such has been my Chicken-Little upbringing. Then Barbara Crooker wrote a glowing and detailed review for Smartish Pace -- and also praised its combination of formal elements and free verse. Okay, one is flukish, two is ... And then Sherry Chandler wrote another great review on her blog.

Now, I'm thinking, all right! I can keep on writing this way and a few readers are going to like it. Even if it's only the four of us, that makes my ... not even day or week, it makes my year.

Barbara's review stated my poetic interests well. She said, " One of the things I've been observing recently is that poets no longer seem to be constrained by either strict adherence to form or pigeon-holing ('formalist'); instead, many new collections are emerging that I'd call 'semi-formal,' shuffling an equal measure of formal poetry and free verse, keeping the reader on her toes, as she moves along, engaged in either the narrative or the lyric imagery, and then finds herself caught up short, realizing, 'Hey, that's really a sonnet (or a pantoum, etc.), and has to go back and read the poems one more time, paying more attention to form and how the poet worked in the formal elements."

Bless you, Barbara, for saying what's been on my mind for quite a few years.

I could mention a few others doing similar semi-formal things, who have inspired me: Kay Ryan, Kate Light, and the amazing English poet Alice Oswald. Those are poets of tremendous invention and grace, and I'd be lucky to write a poem that begins to do the kinds of things I've read from their pens.

Then of course, there is Elizabeth Bishop, who defied so many rules and creates so many unique formal elements it's impossible to classify her.

These are my standards -- impossibly high, and that's the idea. But thanks to my generous reviewers, I have been encouraged to keep reaching. And reaching is what makes me a happy girl.