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The book is actually a narcissistic exercise in bookbinding: it’s a single accordion-folded page housed in a box the size of a cinder block.comprises twenty-two separate pamphlets that include both poetry and prose. The painter Francis Bacon rubs shoulders with Joan of Arc; Picasso and Gertrude Stein breathe the same air as Zeus and Homer.
In 2009, Carson published , ostensibly an elegy for her estranged brother.
Instead, her expressions of mourning gave way to prosaic, meandering digressions on Catullus.
While she is perfectly capable of composing a straightforward essay or a poem, montage is her preferred technique, allowing all her multiple talents as an essayist, a literary critic, a classical scholar, a translator, and a philologist to come into play.
“A fictional essay in 29 tangos” is how, for instance, she describes one of her book-length poems.
It includes poems, essays, a screenplay, and an opera libretto.
In the last twenty years, she has published two books of essays, one of translations, and five other books that are not easy to classify, since they contain not only poetry but a great variety of prose.
One of its poems, “Lou’s Grace,” was “performed by all the guests at the dinner table at Laurie’s house, Thanksgiving Day 2013, the year he died.” It goes like this: Then he’d say exactly why it was funny And he’d be right he’d nailed it He’d laugh again to have nailed it Poor Lou Reed: that Thanksgiving wasn’t such a perfect day.
The randomly broken lines, the dogged unmusicality, the affected, meaningless indentation.
Her fame coincided with poetry’s extinction in the wild. Poetry retreated into fine-arts programs and comparative-literature departments: it now survives only in captivity. Two hundred years ago, in his preface to the , William Wordsworth wrote that poetry should cleave “near to the language of men.” Wordsworth’s own verse hums with the mental energy of the ordinary readers who inspired him.
Gone was the general readership that Robert Frost, W. In a weird way, Carson may be just as representative of our own time and of her main readers: arts and humanities graduates with more student debt than talent.