Literary reviews by Tim Love.
Warning: Rather than reviews, these are often notes in preparation for reviews that were never finished, or pleas for help with understanding pieces. See Litref Reviews - a rationale for details.

Friday, 10 October 2008

"Yet" by Carrie Etter (Leafe Press, 2008)

Carrie Etter is an Associate Lecturer in Creative Writing at Bath. Credits include "Poetry Review" and many US magazines. Both Seren and Shearsman will publish books of hers soon. A quote from her first poem

The slight tremble of branches, call it a knowledge
Not the self - think of consciousness as steam

Dispersal and absorption

might make you think she shares Bonnefoy's preoccupation with language's betrayal of becoming, but the themes are more varied than that. Variety is also rife in the layouts: poems are single- or double-spaced, left or full aligned; some poems capitalize the start of each line, some don't; some don't use full stops. There are prose poems, poems with equal-rectangled stanzas, and long poems with words sprayed across the page. Is this a bravura demonstration of form's expressive potential, or an attempt to show how interchangeable (and ultimately meaningless) these quirks are? I don't know. A representative sample is hard to find, though if you like the following poem ("Diving for Starters (20)") you'll enjoy many of the others.

deliquesce under mind over ear
tapering by degrees to the prick-peak
as if to stay the bell's toll
hail would be welcome the pain of
that satiety, bidden by breath

I feel that Bonnefoy's making difficult concepts as easy for readers as he can, excising distractions, whereas Etter brings out the Anglo-saxon mainstreamer in me. Bonnefoy's pamphlet is so thematically unified that it's essentially one long poem. Though some of Etter's poems seem to be extracts from a sequence, cracking one of her poems may still leave the reader bamboozled by the next. Pamphlets give readers little time to tune into a poet's aesthetic, which can be a problem when the range of styles and putative subject-matter is as wide as Etter's (Iraq, Estate Management, Being, etc). My suggestion would be to use one of her books as a stepping stone towards appreciation of this pamphlet.

(from "Poetry Nottingham", September 2008)

Other reviews

No comments:

Post a Comment