Publishers Weekly, 1999-06-28 Over the past decade or so, Guest has increasingly come to be seen as a major force in innovative poetics?earlier this year she won the prestigious Frost Medal. Guest forges onward in this book-length poem with her near-flawless ear and synaesthetic sense of word values, and in the process pares down her style and opens up the page. As if echoing fellow New York School alum John Ashbery, the poem starts: "Ideas. As they find themselves. In trees?" and goes on to explicitly or obliquely invoke Shelly, Byron, H.D., Ovid and Eliot, along with a host of central figures. But the poem is a declaration of intent peculiar to the poet, finding "Dreams set by/ typography. A companionship with crewlessness?shivering fleece." Her carved jewel-like word-clusters are joined through symphonic repetitions?the pages of the book becoming a score for the lexical notes: "`flotsam of the world of appearances'/ drifting by and out of the picture." The allusions, quotations and veiled self-exploration come together into a sort of ars poetica: "Without shyness or formality// `a gesture of allowing oneself time'// Remember how starry it arrives the hope of another idiom, beheld/ that blush of inexactitude, and the furor, it/ will return to you." (The immense white space between these lines cannot be reproduced here.) While kin to Susan Howe's textual and feminist explorations, the rocky form of Guest's 15th book seems hard-won and uniquely her own?rough, foundational. (Aug.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
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