I am dazzled by Phrasebook for the Pleiades
and humbled, and gladdened, for these are works of strong polyvalence and resonance. They ricochet about the brain and cause that singing linguistic frisson I think of as intellectual beauty, one of poetry's most scintillating gifts to the life of the mind. In these poems of Lorraine Doran's, disorder opens up order so the poet can cram more imagination in, and does she ever: "Soon, every song sounded like something/from Ecclesiastes, the way white amaurosis/sounds like a flower, but isn't. " As with Hopkins, who does violence to language to get more out of it, Doran fragments narrative order to get more out of it. I hear Larry Levis, see his tumble-jumble and dazzling asides, feel his exquisite pathos, but there are ninety-nine influences in these sophisticated and tenderhearted poems. Here are poems that leap by leaps-and-bounds and are over-the-top in their disjunctiveness, and yet they cohere, and are delivered whole. Each has the intractability of the ideal: the ideal rider on the ideal horse, the poet knowing when to pull in the reins and stop. I felt my pulse quicken reading these poems and my desire to have written them myself was quickly extinguished by gratitude that Lorraine Doran has. They're here: they're in the world: you can read them! Oh please read them. If you care at all about what's going on in contemporary poetry, you will, and if you don't care, these poems may cause you to care. --Gray Jacobik
Through song and seeming prestidigitation, haunted by myth and love, Lorraine Doran is a virtuoso of perspective: on postcards, from above, or in situ
on a childhood street, her poems arrive at angles to what we know, to show us what we need. What does the soul want? A Phrasebook for the Pleiades.
Thank goodness we have one now. --Alan Michael Parker
With their luminous traces of Dickinson's lightning slants, Lorraine Doran's poems plumb the depths of a world where facts coalesce and opalesce into striking metaphors and transformations (a wedding dress becomes a cloud, an arm becomes a wing), all orchestrated whether in verse poems or exactly shaped prose poems by her quietly exuberant language. Hers is a world of wideawake awareness and visionary edges, with its own kind of understated rapture. Replete with wonders, the poems in this radiant debut collection are tuned to the frequency of ordinary facts made strange by the poet's ability to see into what is, and by doing so to let the rest of us understand what is really there: between "backyards" and "bitten heels" falls the blessing. "You remember everything/ with its own small fire," she says, and that's exactly how the poems in Phrasebook for the Pleiades
burn mapping her own finite, named world with an eye always on something close to the infinite. --Eamon Grennan