PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Mark FordLetters And So It Goes
Letters from Young Mr Grace
(aka John Ashbery)

(PN Review 239)
Henry Kingon Toby Martinez de las Rivas
(PN Review 244)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Jamie OsbornIn conversation with Sasha Dugdale
(PN Review 240)
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
OUP PNR 246 Banner
Monthly Carcanet Books
Next Issue Alex Wong embarks on Ausonius's Moselle Christine Blackwell recalls Jonas Mekas Lives of Graves, Trilling and Curnow visited New poems by Lisa Kelly and Jodie Hollander Andy Croft on the 'poetry industry'

This review is taken from PN Review 118, Volume 24 Number 2, November - December 1997.

BREAKING THE CLOSED EMBRACE JORIE GRAHAM, The Errancy (Carcanet) £9.95

Writing against the Whale, contemporary women poets have often stripped their lines down to a bare minimum. In Meadowlands, Louise Gluck uses words like stones taken from the mythic castles - among them modern marriage and male odysseys - she deconstructs. Eavan Boland, as she describes in her wonderful Object Lessons, rebelled against the male authority embodied in Irish poetry in part by allowing herself only two or three beats per line as she worked her way to a more expansive verse, one written on her own terms. Recently, Adrienne Rich has divided her lines with a deep caesura, deliberately silencing them to signal women's silencing (it's also a moment of silence, in memoriam) and then, in resuming, to write out of the silence, asserting a woman's voice. Anne Carson, who as a classicist has written incisively on the stigmatization of the female voice, gives a lapidary concision to her poems which occasionally devolves into shorthand: 'The landlady. / The doorlocks. / The plumbing -' While male writers strip their language to avoid emotion and self-scrutiny, fearing both, for these women poets chastened language is an act of avowal, the sharpening of an instrument for stabbing through the joins in power's armour. Conversely, turned inward, toward the self, feminist concision is a consequence of self-awareness, a refusal to accept mystification, obfuscation, and evasion. Often difficult, when not actually painful, these poets' verse is the new model army for an engaged feminist aesthetic.

Against this writing, Jorie Graham ...


Searching, please wait... animated waiting image