At this point, it is almost embarrassing for everyone involved. Here I am again with a review of a book of poetry. And here you are – literally, it is probably just you at this point- reading ahead with the expectation of some sort of mopey/pathetic/awkward personal anecdote where I crossed paths with poetry in a setting outside this blog. Well, egg on both of our face because that well is dry, my friend.
Last year, there were three books of poetry on The New York Times Top 100 list. I was instantaneously drawn to them. Not for any literary reason or out of some sort of measure of looking to improve my reading skills. It had everything to do with building momentum in my effort to hit 100. Your typical book of poetry is around 100 pages. Not all 100 pages are written equally. Get a Murakami novel and those 100 pages could feel like 200 in a regular book. Most poetry collections have small dimensions and generous spacing. When you need to read a new book every 3.66 days, those small compendiums are just what the doctor ordered.
That brings us to the latest collection of poems I’ve read in this trek: Laura Kasischke’s “Space, in Chains.”
I consider myself a relatively bright fellow, but the more and more poetry I read and the more exasperated I feel at my inability to get most of it, has led me to begin to reconsider that belief.
But reading this collection of poems left me horribly frustrated and at certain points, upset at myself for my inability to get it. Even though it is a short 100 pages, Kasischke’s writing, more often than not, left me at a loss. Obviously, number of pages should not equate to how access a work of literature is. It is more about my level of frustration at such a small sample size. Take these comments with a grain of salt. Maybe when it comes to poetry, I’m just your run-of-a-mill luddite. Me want A-B-A-B rhyme scheme. I don’t words to put up a fight. Just give me a simple theme.
In listing Kasischke’s work on the 2011 list, The Times wrote, “What may be most ambitious, and disturbing, of Kasischke’s eight books of poems strives to comprehend first and last things.”
The one aspect of Kasischke’s work that was obvious was her interest in her family – those who came before her and have come after her. It is in the interactions with her mother and father and the quiet moments she experiences with her son, where her words come alive.
I honestly wish I could tell you more but it would be a struggle. But don’t let that deter from you picking up “Space, in Chains” and seeing which words move you and which poems come alive when you enter Kasischke’s world.