Monday, January 31, 2011

rave: Carolyn Smart & Jan Conn

While I meant to blog about each of these poetry books months ago, today’s timing is perfect. That’s because in just a few days, AWP goers can stop by to see Brick Books (Table C-7, Hall B North) in the book fair to pick up copies—and this is something I highly recommend. In the spring issue of Poets’ Quarterly, I’ll have full reviews for both of these, but I simply have to suggest you seek them out at AWP this week, too.

Carolyn Smart’s Hooked leads the reader through seven sequential poems about seven women: Myra Hindley, Unity Mitford, Zelda Fitzgerald, Dora Carrington, Carson McCullers, Jane Bowles, and Elizabeth Smart. Part persona, part dreamy perspective—past and present—these poems take you into a world, into someone else’s skin, and into herstory like only Smart can.

“Written on the Flesh” is the first of seven, beginning with this detail and epigraph:

Myra Hindley: July 23, 1942—November 15, 2002
Mass murder is a novel written on the flesh
— Ian Brady: 1938 –
From “Written on the Flesh”…

as a girl I 
used to write a lot of stories
laughed and sang
made up jokes
was bad at needlework
couldn’t bear domestic science

loved the mouth organ
played it for Maureen
mums liked me
I was a good babysitter

was a catholic, took communion
after that boy drowned I cried
and prayed and prayed

God is a disease, a plague, a weight ‘round a man’s neck
said de Sade
oh, God, yes
said David, who was there, 
while his wife Maureen sat home with Mum

what’s all the noise about
Gran asked
it’s just the dogs I said

The details:
Hooked by Carolyn Smart
120 pages
ISBN 9781894078696
News & reviews at Brick Books
Buy at amazon
Buy at AWP Bookfair: Table C-7, Hall B North


Jan Conn’s Botero's Beautiful Horses is a sensual blend of dream and fantasy, with a hint of inspiration from Remedios Varo’s surrealistic paintings. This is a meaty collection where animals and humans blur lines as does wake and sleep, dream and reality. With a sense of loss and longing, power despite despair, Conn’s collection is both confrontational in its inquest yet comforting in its baring of the soul. 

“The Event”

Here comes white death, the sky
       the barked dog
       thicker and richer and redder.

The event,
the golden syrup of it,
melancholy beauty, she’s 
       giving it all up: fan
       focus, brocade gown.

You could be my antitype, my other
other, genesis of ringed
things, foolhardy gumshoe
       locked in a cupboard.
       Strange embrace. 

Zebra hidden in a striped zoo,
let your thoughts go
loose and slack.
       Make a run for it
       before the light stumbles.

The details:
Botero's Beautiful Horses by Jan Conn
144 pages
ISBN 9781894078719
News & reviews at Brick Books
Buy at amazon
Buy at AWP Bookfair: Table C-7, Hall B North


Remember to visit Brick Books during AWP in the Bookfair at Table C-7, Hall B North. Also, check back for links to full reviews for each of these titles in the spring issue of Poets’ Quarterly.

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