I’m not someone who normally buys poetry collections, although I do like poetry, and have several collections on my shelves (including a complete works of ee cummings that I’m still working my way through and a battered hardback of the complete poetry of T.S. Eliot). So why did I pick up this collection by Wakoski? A correspondent turned me onto this passage:

“My model is your double world reality in Sleeping In Flame, which people can conveniently interpret as the physical and the psychological if they wish to ignore magic.”

She is, indeed, referring to the novel by Jonathan Carroll, and this collection is full of a strange interpretation influenced by and predicated on Carroll’s novels. Like the best poetry, it is so much more, as well.

The structure is unlike any other poetry collection I’ve ever come across. Intermixed with the poems are letters purportedly from Wakoski to Carroll and a young protege named Craig–I say purportedly because I doubt that what we see are the same words that Wakoski actually might send these two–and quotes from Nick Herbert’sQuantum Reality: Beyond the New Physics. The combinations is appealing to a jaded, sound-bite audience, with its quick jumps from one style and tone to the next. We may not be sure what the hell Wakoski is trying to get at, but it is kind of fun to take the ride with her. And, every once and a while, the poetry truly shines, as in the self-effacing “My $15 Lily,” wherein Wakoski details a purchase mistake, or the personally-revealing “Men’s Eyes,” in which she starts with those famous eyes of movie stars, but somehow ends up with those eyes of her husband.

I picked up this volume because of the Carroll connection, but I plan to pick up the successor to this (a planned trilogy of volumes under the heading “The Archaeology of Movies and Books”) because Wakoski is interesting in her own right.

[Finished November 1996]


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