Constance: Poems

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The cumulative effect of these quiet, unassuming poems lingers long after this slim volume is closed. Kenyon's ( Let Evening Come ) fourth collection is built around two perfectly orchestrated poem sequences. In the first, the speaker contrasts memories of her baby carriage with other images from her childhood, such as her parents' toiling away at low-paying jobs. She also recalls the present-day life of her aging, increasingly dependent mother. Melancholia, the subject of the second sequence and several poems surrounding it, has been played to death in modern poetry, but still Kenyon offers new insights and gives even the most depressing poems an uplifting lilt in their final lines. In her hands a list of the latest medications becomes fit material for poetry: ``The coated ones smell sweet or have / no smell; the powdery ones smell / like the chemistry lab at school / that made me hold my breath.'' She writes, in addition to illness, of sleep, insomnia and death. She interacts with the insects, birds and flowers in her New Hampshire landscape, relying on their fragility to teach her of her own. Kenyon describes afterlife, or ``the Other Side,'' with the same precise, hard-edged imagery that fills her other poems. (Aug.)
Library Journal
Anyone encountering Kenyon's poems for the first time will not be surprised to learn that she has translated Anna Akhmatova's poetry, for her poetry exhibits the same simple, uncluttered lines, patiently told and dropped one by one like petals. Her subject is, however, grim. Kenyon here tracks her battles with depression, her conviction that ``we are creation's/ property, its particles, its clay/ . . . as we fall into this life.'' Her somber mood is best summed up by this admonition, delivered to her mirror in the morning: ``You're still here! How you bored me/ all night, and now I'll have/ to entertain you all day.'' Yet the poems themselves are radiant with fine writing. This collection won't appeal to readers who prefer highly embroidered poems, but a lot of fussy writers could learn from Kenyon's simplicity. Important for poetry collections.-- Barbara Hoffert, ``Library Journal''
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781555971960
  • Publisher: Graywolf Press
  • Publication date: 7/1/1993
  • Pages: 64
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 0.18 (d)

Table of Contents

August Rain, after Haying 7
The Stroller 8
The Argument 13
Biscuit 15
Not Writing 16
Windfalls 17
Having it Out with Melancholy 21
Litter 27
Chrysanthemums 28
Climb 31
Back 32
Moving the Frame 33
Fear of Death Awakens Me 34
Winter Lambs 37
Not Here 38
Coats 40
In Memory of Jack 41
Insomnia at the Solstice 42
Peonies at Dusk 44
The Secret 45
Three Small Oranges 49
A Portion of History 50
Potato 51
Sleepers in Jaipur 52
Gettysburg: July 1, 1863 54
Pharaoh 57
Otherwise 58
Notes from the Other Side 59
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