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This review is taken from PN Review 169, Volume 32 Number 5, May - June 2006.

GARDEN SPOT AMY NEWMAN, Fall (Wesleyan University Press) $19.95

The OED devotes a little over nine pages to the word 'Fall', beginning with 'a dropping down from a high position' and ending with 'fall together', meaning to contract. Buried amidst the many and varied vernacular and quotidian meanings of the word (the fall of wickets, taking the fall, fall is autumn in the US) is the 'big-bang' of Western culture and myth: the Fall of Man, defined laconically in the OED as 'the sudden lapse into a sinful state produced by Adam's transgression'. It is this aspect of 'Fall', including associative definitions having to do with the loss of innocence, that Amy Newman focuses on in her imaginatively conceived book of the same name. Fall is divided into three sections called successively 'intransitive', 'transitive' and 'noun'. Each section has twelve poems whose title, and thus subject, are taken from the dictionary definition: 'To come to rest; strike bottom; land'; 'Fall back'; 'The birth of an animal, especially, the birth of a lamb'; and so on.

In 'intransitive' Newman sticks to a rough approximation of Genesis, starting her first poem with the quotation, 'In the beginning' and ending with a human presence in the Garden: 'while we were dreamed, the world's solid shape//pulled its mathematical issue from the density of sky, the filaments of matter in their depth, dirt, color./And out of this we must have ...


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