- STAFF PICKS
- GIFTS + GIFT CARDS
- SELL BOOKS
- FIND A STORE
Other titles in the Phoenix Poets series:
Counter-Amores Counter-Amores Counter-Amores (Phoenix Poets)by Jennifer Clarvoe
Synopses & Reviews
Jennifer Clarvoe’s second book, Counter-Amores, wrestles with and against love. The poems in the title series talk back to Ovid’s Amores, and, in talking back, take charge, take delight, and take revenge. They suggest that we discover what we love by fighting, by bringing our angry, hungry, imperfect selves into the battle. Like a man who shouts for the echo back from a cliff, or the scientist who teaches her parrot to say, “I love you,” or the philosopher who wonders what it is like to be a bat, or Temple Grandin’s lucid imaginings of the last moments of cattle destined for slaughter, the speakers in these poems seek to find themselves in relation to an ever-widening circle of unknowable others. Yearning for “the sweet cool hum of fridge and fluorescent that sang ‘home,’” we’re as likely to find “fifty-seven clicks and flickering channels pitched to the galaxy.” Song itself becomes a site for gorgeous struggle, just as bella means both “beautiful” and “wars.”
"The last part is the best part of this astute second volume from Clarvoe: its witty and volatile couplets and stanzas respond, poem by poem, to Ovid's long Latin poem on love and sex, the Amores. Clarvoe's sequence takes place in bed, but also in Italy, where she traveled during the runup to the Iraq war; at the movies; and at the beach in Malibu, Calif.: 'Desire// hurtles over the last retaining wall, and over the coastal/ highway, where the wild surf, too, goes postal.' Other segments play games with form (couplets repeat end-words rather than rhyming) or play games with lovers: 'Oblivious boy, continue to ignore me./ Do I write less than when you were before me?' The rest of the book benefits, but also gets hurt, by close attention to other famous poems, most of them originally in English. Clarvoe crafts point-by-point answers, in the same forms, to Marianne Moore's 'A Grave' (called 'A Cradle'), to Wordsworth's 'Resolution and Independence,' to George Herbert's 'Prayer,' and to Elizabeth Bishop's 'Five Flights Up,' among others — readers who know the originals may appreciate the in-jokes or feel disappointed by their proximity. Clarvoe (Invisible Tender) excels when she can see past, or around, the earlier poets she admires, into the acts of observation and insight that amount to truly creative translation." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Jennifer Clarvoe is professor of English at Kenyon College. She is the author of Invisible Tender.
What Our Readers Are Saying