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)
Tim Parksin conversation with Natalia Ginzburg
(PN Review 49)
Next Issue Subha Mukherji Dying and Living with De la Mare Carl Phillips Fall Colors and other poems Alex Wylie The Bureaucratic Sublime: on the secret joys of contemporary poetry Marilyn Hacker Montpeyroux Sonnets David Herman Memories of Raymond Williams
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PNR 250 Poetry Archive Banner
PN Review New Issue

This review is taken from PN Review 179, Volume 34 Number 3, January - February 2008.

SOMETHING BORROWED GRACE SCHULMAN, The Broken String (Houghton Mifflin Company) $22.00.

Grace Schulman is a well published, well honoured poet who writes carefully polished and crafted poems that have had all the life squeezed out of them by the poet's studied carefulness. There is nothing wrong with craft or care, of course, but her poems are so dutiful and unsurprising - so uninvolving - that they begin to resemble little, airless neo-Victorian drawing rooms in a museum exhibition.

A typical Schulman poem describes someone else's performance and then gives her reaction to it. For instance, 'Blue in Green' describes how 'on tenor sax, John Coltrane fills the blues/with mournful chords on scales older than Jubal's,//ending in air'. Or pianist Bill Evans: 'I Loves You, Porgy. Sundays at the Vanguard/he soloed, improvised - his test that starved/nameless fear.' Or 'Art Tatum at the Gee-Haw Stables': 'Hands flew across the keys like osprey wings/in high wind./Solo flight. He played alone//and cursed blurred sight, quicksilver notes unblurred.' Or, moving to artists, 'Turner, who saw mud rivers shine in fog,/hunched in a cellar and one day a week/flung open pine shutters and cried: "What jewels!"' Or

Soutine created light
at the heart of dread
by dragging a steer's carcass
up to his rooms in Paris.

If she mentions apples she gives them a Cézanne tag. She describes Delacroix creating the fresco at St Sulpice, or what's going on in Dutch genre paintings or 'How rain lashes Hart Crane's house'.

Having ...

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image