Synopses & Reviews
In this stunning new collection of poems, Mary Jo Bang jettisons the reader into the dreamlike world of Louise, a woman in love. With language delicate, smooth, and wryly funny, Louise is on a voyage without destination, traveling with a cast of enigmatic others, including her lover, Ham. Louise is as musical as she is mysterious and the reader is invited to listen. In her world, anything goes, provided it is breathtaking.
Bang, whose first collection was the prize-winning Apology for Want, both parodies and pays homage to the lyric tradition, borrowing its lush music and dramatic structure to give new voice to the old concerns of the late Romantic poets. Louise in Love is a dramatic postmodern verse-novel with an eloquent free-floating narration. The poems, rife with literary allusion, take journeys to distant lands. And, like anyone on a voyage without a destination, they are endlessly questioning of the enigmatic world around them.
"The book profits from Bang's wandering eye, constantly engaged and stimulated. Her images are provocative, and her characters expertly blurred to form a flexible arena of distinct yet inconclusive personalities, allowing room for an imaginative reader in their midst...Her Wilde-like wit and decadent proclivities spurt forth in every poem; diction is flirtatious, impish...Bang enlivens her poetry through attentiveness to music, internal rhymes, and astute soundplay shaping each poems mood. The cumulative result is a vibrant, precise work carried out with big-band panache." Verse
"Nearly a novel in verse, Louise in Love is also a sonic celebration. Sprung rhythms, iambic verse, and created words dance lightly along an upper crust of an invented world." Rain Taxi Review of Books
"Louise is a brilliant poetic creation. The poems that chart her 'career' in all its vicissitudes are delicious language games. It is the exactitude of these witty fantasy poems, their ability to evoke the most precise gradations of mood and atmosphere that make Louise in Love such a memorable, exciting book of poems. It should establish Bang as one of the finest poets of her generation." Marjorie Perloff
"In Louise in Love, Mary Jo Bang introduces her inventions (six characters and their world) in speedy, startling and vibrant language, and then gamely lets us explore their dissolution and disappearance." American Letters & Commentary
About the Author
Mary Jo Bang's last book, Apology for Want, won the Bread Loaf Bakeless Prize. Louise in Love was a winner of the Poetry Society of America's Alice Fay di Castagnola Award for a manuscript-in-progress. She has received a Discovery/The Nation Award and a Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University. She currently lives in Saint Louis and teaches at Washington University.