Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Jeanne Beaumont

Curious Conduct is a great second book. It's much more experimental than Jeanne Beaumont’s first book, Placebo Effects, which I also really enjoyed. Hers is a playful, intelligent voice, completely and quietly confident. She's a poet who makes a decision and sees it through. That makes Curious Conduct a difficult book to put down. Beaumont’s world is fresh and sharp, imaginative, and dare I say fun? From “Corrected Proof”:

The Broom will now kiss the bride.

Let science sweep in and enrapture the every day

as the blue blue dress wraps the planet.

Don’t take nob for an answer.

Most theorems beg in on napkins...

Not surprisingly from one of the editor’s of Poet’s Grimm, there’s a fairy tale quality here too: this is a world where rocks talk and bowls are exceedingly hungry. There’s mischief here, and a bit of a twinkle in the “Metaphor Drawer” where “The shovel is ready/ The key turns in for the night” and “The Knife is desperate for friends”.

Beaumont is a poet who engages with the world around her as much as with the language she is using:

Can nothing be done about the air?

A man asks, pretending to unnoose his tie.

I edit the sentence down to seven words.

I think he could lose the sportcoat.

I love a poet who is thinking on the page, and yet still engaged in the familiar. But don’t let familiar fool you: there’s more going on here than meets the eye.

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