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This review is taken from PN Review 277, Volume 50 Number 5, May - June 2024.

Cover of The Miraculous Season: Selected Poems
Mae LosassoV.R. ‘Bunny’ Lang, The Miraculous Season: Selected Poems, edited by Rosa Campbell (Carcanet) £16.99
Small Violently Moving Creature

It is a strange experience to hold the selected poems of a dead writer in your hand, turn to the introduction, and be told by the book’s editor that ‘you probably haven’t heard of’ the author. Of course, if we’re  holding the book, then we probably have heard of V.R. ‘Bunny’ Lang, but Rosa Campbell’s apophatic introduction is a clever move, setting the scene for Lang’s work in context. Because ‘if you have [heard of Lang]’, Campbell continues, ‘it’s because you’re a Frank O’Hara fan and can recall poems dedicated to her’. Lang the friend; Lang the muse; Lang, one more name among the Joes, Janes and Jacksons of O’Hara’s dazzling New York coterie. Such is the state of Lang reception; one always framed by the better-known O’Hara – and one that The Miraculous Season will no doubt help to redress.

But why open with O’Hara at all? Is it because Lang’s poems need to lean on his, like a crutch, to be heard? In other words, does Lang’s work require the New York School context to give it meaning? The answer, as the poems reveal, is mixed: on the one hand, Lang is significant as a woman in the first wave of the New York School (that rare bird that Campbell’s critical work has, elsewhere, sought to bring into the light); on the other, her writing is at its best when it is least in the spirit of that School; or when it least resembles O’Hara’s:
Spring you came marvellous with possibilities

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