In The Beauty of the Husband
, subtitled "A Fictional Essay in 29 Tangos", Ann Carson explores her ambiguous feelings toward a difficult but intriguing marriage. Each poem begins with a short quote from John Keats, whose idea that "beauty is truth" is the thread holding together a relationship with a man addicted to lying and philandering. A scoundrel ("He lied when it wasn't even convenient"), the husband is redeemed and forgiven almost everything because of beauty.
For Carson, the truth is "layered and elusive," hidden under the conversations of a thousand nights, nights when the lights were still on at dawn. There is a daring quality to Carson's work, a startling vision and perspective that will not be judged by normal standards. By penetrating to the core of a relationship, Carson stands convention on its head and finds "the light that pain brings". These poems bespeak the brilliance and shade of shape-shifting truth and conjure a freshness of language that shimmers. Somehow it seems fitting that the book itself, as an object to hold and behold, is also beautiful.
Though Anne Carson's poetry is shot through with the myths and images of the classical world, this ancient light helps illuminate contemporary situations and concerns. A classics professor at McGill University in Montreal, Carson has arrived in a surprisingly short time as one of Canada's finest poets. More than that, her exquisite, intelligent, highly original poems put her in the first rank of world poets. --Mark Frutkin, Amazon.com
"The most instantly penetrating of contemporary poets... she has great intellectual and emotional knowledge, a vast habitat, to every bit of which she brings powerful perception and a freshness as startling as a loud knock at the door" (Calvin Bedient New York Times Book Review
"Anne Carson, a Canadian, is quite remarkable. She really has captured me. I have been reading her obsessively over the past months. A stunning writer" (Harold Bloom Paris Review
"In every form we find a sly, plainspoken eroticism that is a perfect complement to her sly, plainspoken intellectual ardour... a truly great poet of the 21st century" (Rebecca Wolff Time Out
"She is an exceptionally exciting new voice" (John Lancaster Daily Telegraph
"Carson writes ina language any poet would kill for: sensuous and funny, poignant, musical and tender, brilliantly lighted" (Ruth Padel New York Times Book Review