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Interior with Sudden Joy: Poems Paperback – June 15, 2000
Everything We Keep: A Novel
On the day of her wedding, she buried her fiancé—and unearthed shocking secrets. Learn More
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In Shaughnessy's visceral wonderland, obsession and poison go hand in hand, mirrors make people vanish, and nuns are definitely not safe in their alabaster chambers. She's ever intent on rescuing (or wresting) us from our easy beliefs. "The Question and Its Mark" is her stunning take on the myth of Leda and the Swan, its final couplet reading: "Leda possessed a pair of knees that also bent / in prayer. I ask of you only what she asked for there." Yes, this poet knows her tropes, and has a sure synesthetic touch. Her pairs of women are "hot with mixed / light drunk with insult," and her private language--in which words such as blue, strumpet, and silver reverberate--soon becomes a kind of lingua franca between her and the reader. In her debut, Shaughnessy's debt to the surrealists, particularly to Dorothea Tanning, is visible and audible on each page. She's also a distant and distancing poetic relative of Sylvia Plath, wielding a similar jaunty threat. "Epithalament," her twist of an epithalamium, invokes a woman lost--and begins: "Other weddings are so shrewd on the sofa, short / and baffled, basset-legged." What better combination could there be of tradition, the individual talent, and the razor-sharp imagination? --Kerry Fried --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
Shaughnessey's may be seen by some as academic poetry, but I read in her words the plain pain of the inability of language, words, spaces, to convey the feeling state -- but she comes awfully close. This is why I think her language is so obtuse to some -- they are not reading the difficulty between words as a difficulty of linguistic significance.
And her poetry seems often terrifying, or terrified. Other poems seem beautiful. She takes amazing risks in putting words and phrases together that seem far apart. In bringing them together, perhaps some readers do not want to risk facing the bridge between words and what will be revealed to them by crossing that bridge. Shaughnessey is not a poet whose poems can be read once and done away with. Nor should they be. They linger for me, unforgettable. This is a book I constantly come back to in wonder. How does she come up with these personifications and metaphors? They are fresh, so fresh I cannot place them.
My favorite poem, "Jouissance," begins,
"Your phantoms hang neatly from skyhooks,
ready to be veils, ready to disembody you.
You have shelled yourself of this curved room
and the smell is of burnt door,
slackbelly hot. It is an albattoir,
lacking it's usual firmness.
You are all rain-collected, in a butterfly sac
opaque and draining.Read more ›
The collection is playful, light-hearted, and places special emphasis on sound--alliteration, assonance, rhyme, and repeated syllables. The poem "Swell," for example, on page 17, opens with the words "Svelte with eventual sex ...", a phrase that neatly aligns several instances of the short E sound and leavens the whole with the consonant V. Towards the end of the poem we read "We toss freely with fever this mirror/desilvered." Here it is mostly the long E that we hear, once again given V as accompaniment, but this time R makes its mark as well, particularly in fever, mirror, and desilvered. Returning to the top of the poem, we have "The shine and shifting slate of the sky ... I am more than blue/if you are the violent imprint."
In "Dear Gonglya" the experimentation in sound is somewhat more complex. "What we feel in the solar plexus wrecks us./Halfway squatting on a crate where feeling happened. Caresses.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
One of my favorite books of poetry. Her word choice is exacting, her imagination, immense. Brilliant and necessary book.Published 18 months ago by Sarah K. Lain
I'm surprised that a lot of readers do not see through the pretty and odd words. Because although in her stronger poems it is difficult to assess whether she really has something... Read morePublished on March 29, 2009 by thespider
I went to a reading and heard brenda give voice to the words
that were splayed out on her pages. Read more
....willfully recondite, not restructuring language as much as hawking a private lexicon of buzz words in free association to the admiration of the impressionable. Read morePublished on May 25, 2004 by Howard Grady Brown
This is a formidable book. One of the greatest first books of poetry I've read. Her writing is avant-garde & linguistically exacting. She's smart.Published on March 13, 2003 by I X Key
It's just so cool! The wat Shaughnessy writes is just so exciting. I honestly can't tell whether in many places there's a vast interior she put inside the words, of which I can... Read morePublished on May 23, 2002
This work represents deep, textual layering that shouldn't intimidate with its elevated tone. Sentences are highly structured and extremely literate with references to women's... Read morePublished on October 18, 2001 by george hild
These poems are thick with gooey goodness and B.S. has a grand voice, but at times I felt I'd eaten too much candy (and I like candy!). Read morePublished on June 19, 2001