Publishers Weekly, 2009-05-18 Consistent throughout in its embittered tone and its focus on disillusion and failed love, Bernard's articulate fourth collection could please connoisseurs with its panoply of modes and forms: epigrams in an almost classical style, scenes from a nonexistent, racy Victorian novel ("Under the Rose/ by Langley Boisvert"), arias from nonexistent operas, translations from nonexistent German poems and a brace of unrhymed sonnets. Bernard has always blended sadness with literary sophistication, and after the disappointingly earnest autobiography of Swan Electric (2003) she returns to some of her strengths here. The troubles Bernard describes are finally less political than existential, familial, personal. Single poems remember the lives and the deaths of poets she knew (Jason Shinder, Aga Shahid Ali), but the whole collection turns her attention more often to the collapse, the near-death, within parts of herself. "Love breaks me like a corn cake/ in a boy's mouth," says one poem. A prose poem uncovers an even more striking image for Bernard's combination of raw pain and canny reserve: "When I was under snow," she writes, "it took a lot to persuade me to dig out, and now and then I think of that ice burrow with real longing." (June) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
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