Every couple of years, some unlucky soul gets designated as the Poet for People Who Hate Poetry, and now it seems to be Deborah Garrison's turn. It's easy to see why: she gets the voice of the late 20th-century New Yorker to perfection, in all its kvetchy, melancholic glory. At times it's like hearing George Costanza channeling Emily Dickinson: I'm never going to sleep
with Martin Amis
or anyone famous.
Garrison also tends to sidestep metaphysics in favor of more accessible subject matter. That means love (mostly unrequited) and work (mostly unbearable, particularly for a working girl in a testosterone-driven office, wearied by the appearance of yet "another alpha male-- / a man's man, a dealmaker"). No wonder Garrison seems so appealing. And no wonder her publisher has capitalized on this appeal by packaging her book in such a sleek, chic jacket. It would be a mistake, however, to write her off as one more neurotic light versifier. Her metaphoric agility can take you by surprise: note the Atlantic breeze coming "up out of the surf / like a dog gone swimming, / slagging sand and spray every which way / and making the news unreadable." So, too, can the note of resignation that undergirds so many of Garrison's vignettes-in-verse, giving even her most featherweight performances an odd, unchic intensity.
From Library Journal
Garrison, a New York-based poet and senior editor at The New Yorker, has produced this slim volume of highly accessible poetry: the talented observations of a bright young career woman preoccupied with men, sex, clothes, domesticity, and office politics. One only wishes that Garrison would use her vivid skills with the language ("the sun's fuzzy mouth sucking the day back") to explore issues and scenery that more deeply touch the reader's soul. She's capable of gorgeous images; of peonies she writes, "I used to hate/ their furry scent, their fat cheeks packed/ with held breath, the way they'd crumple open/ later, like women in tears." And her poems ring with inner rhythms and off-rhymes, along with smug, self-confident humor: "Are her roots/ rural, right-leaning? Is she Jewish,/ self-hating? Past her sell-by date,/ or still ovulating?" Garrison entertains but shallowly. Recommended with some reservations for larger public libraries.?Judy Clarence, California State Univ. Lib., Hayward
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