Synopses & Reviews
Each prose poem in this extraordinary volume is an impassioned letter to a nameless editor from a poet seeking publication for her collection about chess, sainthood, and the poet's lonely childhood. Taken individually, the poems display a dazzling originality; together, they form an exquisite exploration of memory and longing.
"In her fourth collection, Newman mines the awkwardness of composing cover letters for submitting creative writing for publication and the inevitable anxiety of the wait that follows, weaving them into ruminations on youth, memory, and religious belief that double as commentary on poetry and process. Almost every poem takes the form of a letter to an anonymous, perhaps godly, editor, describing her 'manuscript,' X=Pawn Capture, purportedly a 'lyrical study of chess' and its effect on her family. The letters quickly digress into recollections of how the speaker's grandparents, who raised her, evaded their own emotional responsibilities grandfather through chess and grandmother through devotion to Catholic martyrs interspersed with scenes from a socially stunted adolescence. Beauty, time, and displacement of desire are recurrent themes, buoyed by playful and baroque descriptions reminiscent of Lisa Robertson: 'Because it is not our privilege to understand the world, which is shown to us in such irritating dimensions and swatches, like the scratchy tweeds I would have preferred to the wrinkled handkerchiefs of my upbringing.' The epistolary form retains its ability to surprise, perhaps because it feels like Newman's speaker is in a trance from which she suddenly snaps to, realizing that she is in the midst of composition. This is a complex, nuanced, and stimulating work." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Amy Newman is one of the most gifted and original poets writing in America today."--Martha Collins
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