Synopses & Reviews
A lush, lyrical debut from a vibrant new poetic voice
A sparrow like a “fumbled punch line” is lost in an airport; a man translating Ovid is transfigured by witnessing a massacre in Jamestown in 1621; a woman smiles seductively as the skin on her back is opened out like a wing; a lizard upon a laptop shimmers with the true life, primitive and binary, of our modern information age.
In the sonically rich, formally restless poems of this debut collection, Song & Error, the thread that unravels all we think we know of the world is plucked loose and drawn from a seals beached corpse. Uniting past and present, history and autobiography, Averill Curdys poems strive to endure within “the crease of transformation” and to speak—sing—of that terrible beauty.
"This first book from Curdy gets elaborate fast without sacrificing passion. Scenes from modern life outdoors and indoors a 'Sparrow Trapped in the Airport,' a dying salmon, a young beauty killed by a truck bomb stand beside longer poems based on historical characters, among them Thomas Jefferson, John Ruskin, and the Spanish explorer Cabeza de Vaca. Curdy favors gorgeous language and complex syntax, sometimes abstract but more often descriptive. A lizard on a laptop represents 'the digital evergreen of failing pulses'; a seabird in the Jamestown colony shows a 'gray wick-threaded throat/ Burning the oil secreted, an amber musk/ Of uncompassed seas & the solitary hunt,/ Of error & sign.' Yet Curdy's voices can get stark, even frightening: 'My sister/ was safe when I was beautiful,' says one speaker from beyond the grave. Her historical figures can disappoint, sounding too fond of their own words. Her shorter poems, though, and almost all those set in the present, convince by their cascade of phrases, their wealth of detail, reminiscent of Amy Clampitt and Lucie Brock-Broido, whether in a 'Single Room,' 'reaching/ For something, for anything,' or on an urban roof, 'With the linden's melon scent twined/ Around an untuned engine's blue carbon/ Monoxide and Wednesday's trash.'" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Averill Curdy was born in the Pacific Northwest, where she worked as an arts administrator and in the software industry. She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Rona Jaffe Foundation, among others, and her poems have appeared widely in both the United States and England. She lives in Chicago and teaches at Northwestern University.