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Corridor: Poemsby Saskia Hamilton
Synopses & Reviews
“Hamilton is able to sustain a complex narrative through stripped-down poems . . . leavened by a wry humor.” —The New York Times Book Review
I wanted to read an essay in your wrist.
The afternoon seemed endless. Out the window,
a lane to the right was bending away,
taking with it the figure moving down it.
Alone for a quarter of an hour,
looking in, plotting the argument,
all the marks of lucidity
and brevity in that attempt,
that benefit of rhetoric:
the true but unlikely moment.
Corridor, Saskia Hamiltons third collection, is a study of motion and time. Its glanced landscapes, its lives seen in passing, render the immeasurable in broken narratives. These poems are succinct in order to travel quickly—they have unexpected distances within their reach. They are dauntless and alert in their apprehension of the natural kingdom at the frontier of so many unnatural ones. And they inhabit the realm of contemplation which, for Hamilton, is charged with eros.
"Focused on each 'rib and spine or/ rafter and beam' of language, Hamilton (Canal) delivers a collection of deceptively brief, lean poems. With subtle hints of noir, she favors atmospheres of night and rain, where time moves differently: 'The day is over over there.' The collection is bookended by two short poems that share the title 'Night-jar,' the name of a small bird that is active in the twilight hours. These birds act as a kind of portal into Hamilton's gray world, which might be inspired by, but is not part of, a countryside that has fallen into ruin, a 'wood with its innumerable pathways' to 'tall grasses, fields and sheep.' Or maybe it is a landscape constructed from some 'internal/ forest.' Strangers' voices drift in and out like mist, and there is always a studied lack of clarity that gives the collection an irresistible tension: 'Ã¢Â€Â˜The ineffable/ is everywhere in language,'/ the speaker had said/ in the huge hall where/ I sat amongst coughers.' Elsewhere in this dreamlike hall, 'A door opened on another room/ its own were ajar, white doors,/ a figure removing into the shadow.' The book's allure is in chasing that shadow, or, as Hamilton suggests, 'stir the white paint,/ to change the dream.' (June)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Saskia Hamilton is the author of two poetry books, As for Dream and Divide These; editor of The Letters of Robert Lowell; and coeditor of Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence Between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell. She teaches at Barnard College.
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