REVIEW) By Alison Ross (BOOK I first discovered the genius of Sheila Murphy when I was perusing tomes at an excellent indie bookstore in Austin called Malvern Books. The title of her book, "Letters to an Unfinished J" leaped out at me. I read her verse on the plane back to Atlanta, and became entranced with Murphy's ability to forge a sinuous syntax. She manipulates language to further stretch its malleability, but also personalizes it, creating an introverted world whirling with intricate imagery and intense emotion, that also manages to be accessible to an audience attuned to literary innovation and yet wary of the alienating pretension that plagues certain poetry scenes. I first discovered the late and much-bereaved Michelle Greenblatt when she submitted poetry to Clockwise Cat. However, unlike with Sheila Murphy, her work did not immediately and urgently snag my attention. Her impact on me was more slowgrowing; her words simmered in the subterranean corners of my
mind for a very long time until they exploded to the forefront of my consciousness upon reading her book, Ashes and Seeds, and I became beatifically aware that her linguistic gifts were in the lineage of Rimbaud and Borges. Her poetry jolts the imagination for its deployment of complex symbols infused with cryptic personal references. So it makes sense that these two titans of talent collaborated on a tome of verse. Their approaches diverge and converge in fascinating ways. The poems that inaugurate the collection are not ghazals - they are the "other" referred to in the title. These first few poems, in a word, are stunning, and a nice way to ease into the intensity of the ghazals. These poems are their own version of intense, however, as they create startling sensory and synaesthetic impressions and the words and images veer toward unexpected intersections, where there are collisions and clashes that become glorious idiomatic idiosyncrasies. The ability to commandeer language for their own linguistic agendas is where Murphy and Greenblatt excel. From “A Tone Endures”: "One washes young trees as though a blossom would be truer than root structures, thinking how not to admire the violent craft of spiderwebs thinking, work is a series of self interruptions and perverse tunings, yet here is another new year, earth tipsy with the pointblank light of the raw sun.” These lines almost read as aphorisms, through which we can glimpse a world harbored in the shadows, or one that has been
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