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Space, In Chains (Lannan Literary Selections)
 
 

Space, In Chains (Lannan Literary Selections) [Kindle Edition]

Laura Kasischke
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product Description

Product Description

"Kasischke's intelligence is most apparent in her syntactic control and pace, the way she gauges just when to make free verse speed up, or stop short, or slow down."—The New York Times Book Review

"Kasischke's poems are powered by a skillful use of imagery and the subtle, ingenious way she turns a phrase."—Austin American-Statesman

Laura Kasischke's poems have the same haunting qualities and truth as our most potent memories and dreams. Through ghostly voices, fragmented narratives, overheard conversations, songs, and prayers in language reminiscent of medieval lyrics converted into contemporary idiom, the poems in Space, In Chains create a visceral strangeness true to its own music.

So we found ourselves in an ancient place, the very
air around us bound by chains. There was
stagnant water in which lightning
was reflected, like desperation
in a dying eye. Like science. Like
a dull rock plummeting through space, tossing
off flowers and veils, like a bride. And

also the subway.
Speed under ground.
And the way each body in the room appeared to be
a jar of wasps and flies that day—but, enchanted,
like frightened children's laughter.

Laura Kasischke is the author of thirteen books of poetry and fiction. Her novel Her Life Before Her Eyes was adapted for the screen and starred Uma Thurman. A Guggenheim Fellow in 2009, she teaches in the MFA program at the University of Michigan.


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 177 KB
  • Print Length: 130 pages
  • Publisher: Copper Canyon Press (15 Mar 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0066A8TT2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #660,455 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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3.0 out of 5 stars Skilled but depressing 3 Aug 2013
Format:Paperback
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 themselves and others, haunted by memories of family dysfunction and failed relationships. It gets discouraging after a while, and this book doesn't do much to lighten the load. The verse is more skillful than is often the case in such books, with some interesting techniques of rhyme (both full and slant, internal and external) which may repay study, and the occasional striking phrase. Too often though I thought the verses characterized by the faults also typical of such works: the veering off into prosiness, the lack of formal, intellectual, and emotional unity in too many poems, and an apparently willful obscurity fogging up much of what is implied to be a narrative. Recommendation: those into contemporary American verse may find these pieces of some interest, but I wouldn't recommend the book to general readers looking to explore modern poetry.
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous oxymora 14 Mar 2012
By Roger Brunyate - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
"Like this woman with a bucket in the morning gathering gorgeous oxymora on the shore." As her title suggests, Laura Kasischke loves the tingle and challenge of a good oxymoron. Here is the opening poem intact, a paragraph of lyrical prose entitled (as is one of the later verse poems also) "O elegant giant":

"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. The passage of time; parents' decline and death, but also the growth of children; accidents, and accidents averted; the smallness of one world in the vastness of space, one generation in the scale of eternity. One or two bookmarked pages turned the next day into twelve or twenty, until I wanted to explore almost everything. This is a locked chest that may be hard to open, but find your personal key and it will unfurl like those exploded yellow roses.

As my choice of what to end with now is largely arbitrary, let me offer the opening lines and the closing of "Swan logic," a poem where loss and death glitter in perplexing images of anthracite clarity:

"Swan terror and swan stigmata. Three of them slaughtered
at the edge of the pond
and one still

One still gliding in wounded circles on the black mirror of that, like
some music box tragedy inside some girl.

Or the swan inside the dying man pacing the hallways with a ball and chain.

Feathers in the road. One still

One still trying to drag itself back
to that black glass.

[ . . . ]

Swan stillness and swan slaughter still circling the center of the swan."
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mostly very good, but a tad too long 14 Sep 2011
By DabblerArts - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Refreshingly uncomplicated stuff, in some ways. Kasischke is also a novelist, the biographical note in the back says, and I think it shows - the poems start at point A, goes through its variations, and ends at a definite, farther point. The endings aren't earth shattering, but they're definite endings that belong to the poems. And going back to the collection now, I'm surprised by the prevalence of alliteration and assonance, exact and slant rhymes, and repetitions of phrases and lines - in short, all the usual accoutrement of verse, as opposed to prose. There's also an interesting rhythm to the poems, where short lines are contrasted against long lines (which don't lose their energy), and long lines become prose-poem paragraphs (or really, really long lines?). It's unusual and great, all for being so unfussy, I think. As a reviewer noted in the New York Times, this is a very sure hand, relaxed because it is in control.

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:

"Pharmacy"

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
for days.

Hook
in a sponge. The expressions on both of their faces. A memory I will carry with me always, and which will sustain me, despite all the years I will try to prescribe this memory away.

There, some lovely images that seem simple enough, but get stranger the more you think about it. I should also say that Kasischke's novelist experience also shows in that the poems are full of characters and incidents. Sometimes they get quite dark (as in "Swan logic"), and pain and illness figure prominently in the collection, but there's always a dramatic situation - charged and poetic - to draw you in and move you along. As the dramatic situation is something that's too often missing in new poetry (see my review of Bruce Smith), this is in itself no mean achievement, I think.

I have just one slight reservation, which relates to my remembrance of these poems after the fact. I don't know if it's the length of the collection (which could be trimmed of a good batch of less artful poems, I think), but I find that even as I want to return to the collection, I don't remember the individual poems particular well and they tend to blur together. The poems are a little too similar in their characteristic movements, and in the sentimental cast of their images, perhaps. But that's probably a result of the huge number of poems, and in any case I do find myself returning to the collection and finding fresh things in it. The images remain very lovely. Highly recommended!
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another world 25 May 2011
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Kasishcke creates new worlds, invites you in, and makes you live there. You come back to this one with your head spinning, a minty taste in your mouth, and a second shadow tailing you everywhere.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful ! 19 Dec 2013
By Richard Maxson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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 visualize Kasischke's amazing imagery over and over in their minds to get at these poems, as much pictures as words.

I look for the signature poem, when I first open a book. In this one I am reminded of those things that would transport us out of our selves, out of what binds us: "Hamster, tulips, love, gigantic squid...the tour de force of water...birdsong after a rainstorm." I am also reminded of the gravity of lives that holds us, even the sweetest of them.

This is my first exposure to Laura Kasischke. I will hunt down her other 7 books before this one.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enchanted In Chains 2 Sep 2013
By MinnesotaMind - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Kasischke is massively talented and this collection is a blazing arena for her dexterous verbal play.

What I love about this book is how Kasischke keeps one foot in reality and the other on the accelerator of her imagination. Unlike, say, Ashbery who's modern verse usually leaves me more unhinged and confused than aflame, Kasischke manages to keep space and her experiences in the chains of her language; but what a beautiful prisoner they make.
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