Barbara Guest/Anne Dunn, Stripped Tales
Kelsey St. Press, 1995. $14.00.
- In the hoopla surrounding the recent publication of Guest's Selected Poems I hope this book does not go unnoticed. What is it with Barbara Guest? Can't she just do the same thing over and over again? Stripped Tales marks a new experiment in her writing; and even within the book the different pieces take radically different stances on the subject matter at hand. Anne Dunn's drawings here are screened like Edward Ardizzone'schildlike, playful, perhaps too playful for the texts, which are like malicious jokes.
- A poem like "Need to Identify" is a kind of story-a sentence snatched from an Edith Wharton tale of hotel children. A suggestive fragment of something much larger, that doesn't need to be larger, as Guest proves. What is "suggestion," anyway, beyond the craving for the other? One piece details the strategies by which the blank needy suffering ones of the earth try to have "meaningful" dreams, luring in vision with seductive, pretty hooksthe satellite dish, the moon probe, earth works. Or am I reading her "wrong"? How could that be? These fragments, "stripped" of context, release into the air a strange and blistering perfume. They were made in Berkeley like Oppenheimer's experiments with nuclear fission, the saga of a lifetime spent getting it right or wrong or beyond categorical judgments.
Copyright © 1996
Electronic Poetry Review