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Guilty Knowledge, Guilty PleasureThe Dirty Art of Poetry$
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William Logan

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231166867

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231166867.001.0001

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Verse Chronicle

Verse Chronicle

Weird Science

(p.140) Verse Chronicle
Guilty Knowledge, Guilty Pleasure

William Logan

Columbia University Press

This chapter reviews Maxine Hong Kingston's I Love a Broad Margin to My Life, Thomas Lynch's Walking Papers: Poems 1999–2009, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin's The Sun-Fish, Kimiko Hahn's Toxic Flora, Paul Muldoon's Maggot, and Gjertrud Schnackenberg's Heavenly Questions. I Love a Broad Margin to My Life is Kingston's breezy and peculiar new memoir that, unfortunately, after a few pages, gives up any sustained self-portrait, treating the reader instead to trivial anecdotes, breast-beating over the Iraq War, slapdash notes from a trip to China, and some freeform spirituality. Lynch, who is better known as a mortician than as a poet, brings to Walking Papers the qualities useful to his day job: solemnness (even glumness), formal bearing, and a sharp eye for the bottom line. Ní Chuilleanáin's poems are so quiet and subtle, one must read them twice before they come into focus, if they're to come into focus at all. Hahn's Toxic Flora attempts to use the black arts more deeply and deliberately, relying for inspiration on the science columns of the New York Times. Muldoon's poems are full of bells and flashing lights; yet the arty wordplay of his late manner can be exhausting. Schnackenberg's Heavenly Questions is a book of grief and the ways of grief.

Keywords:   poets, poetry, Maxine Hong Kingston, Thomas Lynch, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Kimiko Hahn, Paul Muldoon, Gjertrud Schnackenberg, review

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