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Space, In Chains (Lannan Literary Selections) Paperback – March 15, 2011
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Top Customer Reviews
But Kasischke's main weapon is the lovely and lovingly surreal image. At times (such as in "My son practicing the violin"), I find the images a little too indulgent, but most of the time they're effective and memorable by being strange yet not wildly strange or bizarre. Time for a long quotation to show what I'm saying:
A knife plunged into the center
of summer. Air
and terror, which become teeth together.
The pearl around which the sea
formed itself into softly undulating song--
This tender moment when my father
gives a package of cookies to my son.
They have been saved
from the lunch tray
in a sponge. The expressions on both of their faces.Read more ›
Some of the parts that struck me, some for their elogquence, some for their simplicity:
"A girl in a bed trying to tune the AM radio to the voices of the dead."
"... the soldiers marching across some flowery field in France bear their own soft pottery in their arms—heart, lung, abdomen."
"as if the worship of a thing might be the thing that breaks it."
"The wind has toppled the telescope over onto the lawn: So much for stars. Your brief shot at the universe, gone."
"Bright splash of blood on the kitchen floor. Astonishing red. (All that brightness inside me?)"
"And my father ringing the bell for the nurse in the night, and then not even the bell. Ringing the quiet. Waiting in the silence"
"Believable, chronological, but so quickly erased that it only serves to prove that the universe is made of curving, warping space."
"When I built my luminous prison around you, you simply lay down at the center of it and died."
"Who knew those bees were making honey of our grief?"
"And Jehovah. And Alzheimer. And a diamond of extraordinary size in the hand of a starving child. The quiet mob in a vacant lot. My father asleep in a chair in a warm corridor. While his boat, the Unsinkable, sits at the bottom of the ocean. While his boat, the Unsinkable, waits marooned on the shore. While his boat, the Unsinkable, sails on, and sails on."
She says one thing, and then seems to contradict it with another. Five of the poems are called "Riddle," and even most of those not so called are difficult to understand at first. Generally with a poetry collection, I pick a poem at random, study it, and move to another. Here, I got almost nowhere until I had read through the entire set of 82 poems like a novel, barely comprehending, but drinking it in nonetheless. Sometimes, I'd bookmark a couple of things, like these lines from a poem entitled "My son makes a gesture his mother used to make":
"He does it again. The sun, like the drifting ashes of a distant past. The petals of some exploded yellow roses.
The miracle of it.
The double helix of it.
The water running uphill of it.
Such pharmacy, in a world which failed her! She died before he was even alive, and here she is again, shining in his eyes."
But then I began to notice themes.Read more ›
I appreciate, also, that Kasischke writes about faith in non-sentimental, non-simplistic ways. She arrives at God from a slant angle, as in the lines: "The humming gold of being, and ceasing to be. The exposed motor of eternity" (from "Wasps"). Or the graceful poem "My son practicing the violin," which includes the Mary Oliver-ish line "Such love, and such music, it's a wonder Jesus doesn't make me spend every/waking hour on my knees" but then moves from that familiar idea to the final stanza, "Even the paper cup in my hand has learned to breathe. And each note is a beautiful, ancient kingdom precariously balanced at the edge of a cliff above the sea."
The book could be shorter, yes, but I'm not willing to argue with Kasischke about what should be left out. The poems about the deaths of her parents are intensely moving. Other poems are wry and witty. Beneath all of the poems, an intelligence and courage, despite the pain, doubt, and fear.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Poems of haunting beauty and strangeness. The writing doesn't yield its treasures to superficial readings, though. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Durren Anderson
one of the best contemporary poetry books I've read, and my favorite of laura kasischke's books. stunning poem after stunning poem. they stay with you.Published 23 months ago by hubba hubba
This is a book by a real winner, Laura Kasischke, as usual, a professor, as all the winners of poetry are, and it dashes, dotting the page with crow's feet, little black marks we... Read morePublished on December 28, 2013 by Gordon Hilgers
It is always a pleasure to find a poet with a truly original voice and style. These are gut personal poems, the way Sharon Olds is personal, but readers are compelled to fully... Read morePublished on December 19, 2013 by Richard Maxson
Kasischke is massively talented and this collection is a blazing arena for her dexterous verbal play. Read morePublished on September 2, 2013 by MinnesotaMind
Wonderful book of intelligent writing. I highly recommend this book for anyone who loves poetry. A little bit more advanced.Published on August 9, 2013 by Sarah Koplowitz
Laura Kasischke's Space, In Chains is a masterpiece. These intuitive/counterintuitive poems are scary, beautiful, astounding, moving, surprising, heartstopping, sad, trancendent,... Read morePublished on March 9, 2013 by ffrode
So many books of verse coming out of the American creative writing establishment seem almost to be about the same person: middle-aged, middle-class, concerned with the mortality of... Read morePublished on January 8, 2013 by Jon Corelis