Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Rebecca Wolff, The King: poems

It’s enough to make one envious, to see poets with hardcover poetry collections. For her third poetry collection, The King (New York NY: W.W. Norton, 2009), New York poet and editor Rebecca Wolff works through “a lyrical map of the maternal mind” through seven sections of indirect directness, writing straight ahead lines that go occasionally twisty, writing mothering, motherhood and all else that comes.

Content is King

I queen it

over emptiness.

I invent it, a surplus,
a bombast of nervous

encryption so the process
of blanking becomes

I think of how clueless

and relentless-
ly depthless

my mother, nonetheless
she birthed and hers

is the aspect
and prospect

the matter
and subject


I find something to say.

The king is content.

There are so many books of poetry about being a new parent, or being in a new relationship, that it becomes hard to make such interesting and/or unique. How is it so many of these fall apart in the writing, holding so tight to the sentiment that all else is squeezed out? Wolff, against type, manages to write with a serious lightness that makes the language sing, and the world come alive through her own wonderings, her own queries and the way she moves through contemplating just how she got where she managed to be, with partner and child. There are parts of this collection that remind of the poetry of New York poet Rachel Zucker as well, through Wolff’s direct line, Wolff’s direct statement questioning, whether partner, child, and all else that becomes.

There are Certain Relationships That I
Don’t Understand

to this house
(I own it)

to this boy
(I made him, his whole body)

What is my relationship to the man’s sleeping head
I don’t know him

And the mother
(regarded, regretted, enabled, held the door)

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