Flood Editions

Stephen Burt on Lobster Palaces

In new titles on July 9, 2014 at 4:56 pm

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In the latest issue of The Yale Review (July 2014), Stephen Burt discusses (among other books) Ann Kim’s Lobster Palaces:

“Like other poets associated with her Chicago-based publisher, Flood Editions, Kim writes tightly focused poems indebted to William Carlos Williams, laconic poems that aspire to emulate physical objects. She also looks back, beyond Williams, to Imagism, and to East Asian classical modes . . .

“This short book of short poems excels, in spots, by presenting a restraint it invites us to emulate, bare sketches across which our imaginations can glide. One set of sketches, or short poems, takes poem names from colors (mostly jewel tones); another, longer set takes names from flowers. Here is ‘calla lily’: ‘one window at a door / one bird at a time. / afternoon cantata. / my lotion’s on. / a new appointment / dusts the day.’ If you are the wrong reader, these lines might mean nothing; if you are the right one, they fall together into a portrait of this pale stem, the Eileen Fisher of flora, and of a personality, expectant, patient, almost resigned. . . .

“Do not confuse the brevity in Lobster Palaces with lack of ambition: Kim has brought haiku, tanka, and other properties that say ‘Japanese’ and ‘Chinese’ into her poems and made them au courant, rather than exotic. And she has animated flowers, more than a dozen of them, without emulating either the neo-Victorian cliches of garden poetry, or the influential, loquacious plants in Louise Gluck. Kim represents – rather than extending or reinventing – a cluster of poets now composing subtle, brief, apparently impersonal, thinglike poems (Joseph Massey is another); and she does it in her own, literally colorful, way.”

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