From Publishers Weekly
From "high/ in the uterine tube," through to nursery rhymes and appendectomies, this inventive sixth collection from the Chicago-based Hahn draws abstractions, allegories, oddball equivalents and general claims from the growing and aging human body. One Mattea Harvey-influenced set of poems is named for body parts ("Pity the Appendix," "Pity the Brain"), and seeks emotions proper to individual organs; another considers the chakras of yoga, and a third takes on the queasy, sexual charge and intellectual conclusions this poet finds alike in Internet porn and in the story of Eden. Hahn imagines herself as "Alice fallen/ into the rabbit hole," as an absurdist character in a play trying to understand "the cosmic joke," and as Gregor Mendel, the father of modern genetics; "Goose Pity" rewrites the story of Leda and the swan to replace the god Zeus with Mother Goose. Hahn (Mother in Summer
), who edits TriQuarterly
magazine, shares a toolkit, and an attitude, with such peers as Alice Fulton and H.L. Hix, though she is perhaps more reader-friendly than either, especially in the series—based partly on the Gospels, partly on the life of a not-yet-born child—with which the book concludes. (Aug.)
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Poet and playwright Hahn has a uniquely spiky sensibility and a wit at once decorous and subversive. In her sixth collection, she extends her startling, erotic, and wily inquiry into the endless skirmishes between the rampant mind and its house of flesh, blood, and bone by combining a droll metaphysics with lyrical science. After improvising on the lullaby that begins, "Rock-a-bye, baby / On the tree top," Hahn waltzes on to a cycle of "pity" poems in which she addresses various body parts--"Pity the Foot," "Pity the Face"--with tenderness and outrage. Under the shifting gaze of the moon, Hahn boldly carves out new angles on myth, religion, fairy tales, nursery rhymes, pain, sex, fantasy, and heartbreak. She addresses the Marquis de Sade and links Zeus with the World Wide Web in the tour de force, "The Pornography of Pity." Even punctuation takes on provocative significance as Hahn considers innocence and temptation, experience and retreat, purity and disease, holiness and violence, and the fact that there's no escaping nature--our own or the great cycle of life and death. Donna SeamanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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