- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
From the Publisher“Sheck [is] one of the most accomplished lyric poets writing in America today.” —Boston Review
“These lyrics bring fresh insight out of numbness and joy out of sorrow.” —The New Leader
The squat, long-lined poems of Sheck's fifth collection meditate on American captivity narratives—stories popular in the late 17th century, such as Mary Rowlandson's A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson, often about abduction by Native Americans—as metaphors for the limitations of consciousness and the poetry that tries to render it. These narratives are directly addressed in the 17 "Removes," a term taken from Rowlandson's book. Elsewhere, Sheck (Black Series) references other singularly American figures, including Dickinson, Stevens, William James and Emerson. Sheck relishes the "slow conversion of myself into nothingness," a necessary (and often violent) step toward understanding "this chain of feelings by which we mean (if it is that) a self." These poems at times seem to court vagueness—words such as "scatter," "broken," and "elsewhere" are among Sheck's most precise descriptive terms. Some readers may find that Sheck exhausts her themes and the time from which they originate; modernity appears infrequently, and when it does—in the form of "a computer screen candescing," the human genome and one "marketing director"—the effect is jarring. Throughout, however, Sheck's long lines sustain an elegant uncertainty, and her fractured syntax calls both Dickinson and Gerard Manley Hopkins to mind: "The seconds slant and coarse with split-asunder." (Feb.)Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
This petite volume of 71 poems physically resembles a psalm book or a journal. And yet, because the poet is Scheck (Black Series, among other collections), the reader should expect neither comfort nor context. Scheck's high-modern aesthetic attempts to isolate whorls of thought from the world's backdrop. Each brief poem is an isolated gesture, a voice asserting itself against the white page as if to say, I am what is not. "The Thirteenth Remove" (the lovely noun removeis borrowed from a colonial captivity narrative) gets to the psychological point: "You who paint, if you painted us, we are the spots on the canvas left uncovered." From poem to poem, there are traces of a worldâ€”a hospital, a windowed landscapeâ€”but no explanations beyond the occasional jarring detail: "today the fasting girl died." Motifs of death and illness alternate with a charged diction that the poet attributes to her "interactions with Gerard Manley Hopkins' journals." The topic is consciousness as it wavers between captivity and liberty, from "this white unswaying place" to "this green, this blueness," where the speaker finds that "sometimes what you look at hard seems to look hard at you." For sophisticated readers.
—Ellen M. Kaufman
From the Hardcover edition.
Posted June 26, 2013