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This review is taken from PN Review 95, Volume 20 Number 3, January - February 1994.

COLD LATITUDES JORIE GRAHAM, Region of Unlikeness (New York, Ecco Press) $17.95

Lacanian, The End of Beauty, Jorie Graham's last and best book of poems (her third), interrogates the necessity of 'outline' in subjectivity, using as mythic 'self-portraits' the likes of Eve, Eurydice, Penelope. Heideggerean, Region of Unlikeness interrogates what 'turns away from man, has turned away long ago', in Heidegger's words, yet 'draws us along by its very withdrawal', producing 'what is called thinking'. With its 'own, incomparable nearness' (all these phrases appear in the epigraphs, of which there are ten), the withdrawn makes poetry want to 'stick', so Graham says in 'Spring', 'to the skin of the beast as it shakes', mad to note that 'Everything is choked with being to the quick beat called/stillness'.

But Graham isn't often the engrossed, admiring eye that these fragments suggest. In fact, her new poetry, if intricate, is a sort of ticking off of the minutes in which things fail to be thought into skins and beats. She says, 'Quick, the eye dips into the disappearances' ('Immobilism'), but her poetry explicitly slows and waits. Much of the time, she makes 'detail withdraw its hot hand,/its competing naturalness' ('The Phase After History'). She prefers control, the interrogation, the philosophical overview (or, better, since that is a commitment also, the space in which, as she puts it in 'Untitled', 'the "points-of-view" . come and go'). She likes to be able to say 'Now I will make a sound for you to hear. /The sound of a carnivore at the end of the ...


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