Scarlet Ibis

Scarlet Ibis

by Susan Hahn


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In The Scarlet Ibis, Susan Hahn has created an intricately structured sequence of interlinked poems centered around the single compelling image of the ibis. The resonance of this image grows through each section of the book as Hahn skillfully employs theme and variation, counterpoint and mirroring techniques. The ibis first appears as part of an illusion, the disappearing object in a magician’s trick, which then evokes the greatest disappearing act of all—death—where there are no tricks to bring about a reappearance. The rich complexity multiplies as the second section focuses on a disappearing lady and a dramatic final section brings together the bird and the lady in their common plight—both caged by their mortality, their assigned time and role.  All of the illusions fall away during this brilliant denouement as the two voices share a dialogue on the power of metaphor as the very essence of poetry.

bird trick iv
It’s all about disappearance.
About a bird in a cage
with a mirror, a simple twist
on the handle at the side
that makes it come and go
at the magician’s insistence.
It’s all about innocence.
It’s all about acceptance.
It’s all about compliance.
It’s all about deference.
It’s all about silence.
It’s all about disappearance.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780810151840
Publisher: Northwestern University Press
Publication date: 04/28/2007
Series: TriQuarterly
Edition description: 1
Pages: 80
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Susan Hahn is a poet, playwright, and the editor of TriQuarterly magazine. She is the author of six books of poetry and the recipient of many awards for her poems, including a 2003 Guggenheim Fellowship. The Chicago Tribune named her fourth book, Holiday (Chicago, 2001), and her fifth book, Mother in Summer (Northwestern, 2002), among the Best Books of 2002. Her first play, Golf, was produced in 2005 by Circle Theater in Forest Park, Illinois. 

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     xiii
I     5
Bird trick i     6
II     7
III     8
Bird trick ii     9
IV     11
V     12
Bird trick iii     13
VI     15
Bird trick iv     17
VII     18
Lady trick i     23
I     25
Lady trick ii     26
II     28
Lady trick iii     29
III     30
IV     32
V     34
VI     35
Lady trick iv     37
Bird and Lady
Prologue     41
I     42
II     43
III     44
IV     46
V     48
VI     50
VII     53
VIII     55
IX     57
X     59
XI     61
Epilogue     64

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Scarlet Ibis 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
mad_rubicante on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I am a fan of "Self/Pity", so I was excited to read "The Scarlet Ibis".I must admit it isn't as strong as "Self/Pity", but I still liked the first two parts: "Bird" and "Lady", although I didn't really enjoy "Bird and Lady" (more on that later).I liked the mirroring poems of the magician tricks using (abusing?) the bird and the woman. I thought that it was a fresh idea and in a unique style. The interweaving of all of it was interesting (Ibis, bird, Thoth, woman, wound, feather, guide, death), but in the end, it felt like Hahn was trying too hard or not expressing her thoughts clear enough. I appreciate what she was trying to do, but the execution was muddled and hard to interpret.Her imagery and wit were just as sharp and tight as "Self/Pity", but I think the problem was the topic and the ending.Some of my favourite lines are:"Most safe for a fake//bird, less so for one with song/made to acclimate/to this life. Never/for the quiet Ibis/who stands its nature/in waters infested with/piranha fish." - bird trick ii: part V"I found instead the sacrifice//of sheep intestines (or was it silk/thread or, perhaps, the lesser nylon?)/attempting to hold the marked/land together." - lady trick iii VI"BIRD:/I get it! This Is The Trick!/To merge us into one and say/we're not just similar,/but the same." - Prologue III