Sieves of Consciousness

Mary_RuefleTrances of the Blast

Mary Ruefle

Wave Books, $22 (cloth)

As a verbal hunter-gatherer, Ruefle is a barometer of our lyric listening. Her poems are sieves of consciousness, catching strangeness and mundanity, the overheard and the under the breath. There has come to be a sense that writing lyric poems is an ordinary, vaguely conformist thing to do, like driving a Volvo or ordering Thai in the suburbs. Ruefle reminds us how odd, synthetic, and arduous it is—the pursuit of this transmission of verbal fact and form. If you want to know how an early 21st-century lyric poem gets made, and how it is tethered to the rhetorics and resources of its time and place, start here.

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