Gold Wake Press, 2012
perfect bound, 61 pages, $12.95
This chapbook itself is “a little gilded cage” of strange and luminous loveliness, a shattering, as of the prismatic light of a crystal chandelier, or of mirrors, or of stained-glass cathedral windows. It is a shadowy flickering of candlelight on white walls. The Body is a Little Gilded Cage is a book of fragments: letter excerpts, quotations, footnotes. Notes at the back and blurbs on the back cover tell us this is the fragmented “story” of H.D. (the Imagist poet Hilda Doolittle), retold in bits of her letters to Richard Aldington (her lover, husband, ex-husband, friend, and fellow Imagist) and Sigmund Freud (her psychoanalyst), and there are recurring images, themes, phrases, and, of course, dreams.
There’s a lot of white space, perhaps doubling the page count. The opening seven prose poems each take up half a page, or less, with the text set at the top. Sections of text labeled as “Footnotes [on various topics]” start, appropriately, under a line on the lower part of the page. Much of the book has the feel of commentary on a much longer absent text. It is an experience in language more that a set of poems or any kind of linear narrative. It has that odd quality of a dream where things seem to connect or make sense but one thing does not lead to another.
From a section called “Footnotes to a History of the Chandelier,” number eleven states, beginning with a sentence fragment, in footnote style, “An early bildungsroman, in which the heroine retained an unusual fascination with fire. Her coming of age involved a cremation of childhood mementos. For a more detailed list, see Appendix B.”
If you see Appendix B of this book, though, you’ll find something else: Correspondence:
you were like
bits of broken glass-pictures in a cathedral
night & some Greek island
this is not much of a letter
So Darling has a sense of humor, too!
Kathleen Kirk is a writer whose work appears online and in print in Confrontation, Eclectica, Poetry East, Sweet, YB Poetry, and elsewhere. She is the author of the chapbooks Selected Roles, Broken Sonnets, and Living on the Earth, with Nocturnes forthcoming this winter from Hyacinth Girl Press. A past editor and reviewer for RHINO, Kirk is poetry editor for Escape Into Life. She blogs about poetry, reading, and life eight days a week at Wait! I Have a Blog?!