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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 56 | volume X | September-October, 2007



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                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 56September-October, 2007
Reviews

Getting the Self Out of the Way

/4
p. 1
Alexis Smith

”Decreation: Poetry, Essays, Opera” (Vintage Contemporaries) by Anne Carson at once deconstructs genres and recreates them, giving literature new spaces, new contexts, new movements – according to Alexis Smith in this review for Powells [http://www.powells.com/review/2006_12_02. html]

Anne Carson's latest book of poems and essays is now out in paperback. For those readers who are familiar with Carson's daring, gorgeous books “Autobiography of Red”, “Plainwater”, and “Glass, Irony and God”, among others, news that “Decreation” is a stunning, genre-defying masterpiece will not come as a surprise. For readers who have yet to experience Carson's work, let this be your introduction.
    Known for her classicism (she has a stunning translation of Sappho's fragments, “If Not, Winter”), Carson aims a very modern eye at ancient forms and subjects, creating a style that is somewhat idiosyncratic. Her sources bound from ancient Greece to Emily Dickinson to twentieth-century Italian cinema. Her use of forms – poetry, prose, song, dialogue, screenplay, monologue, libretto – and the way she draws on non-literary forms like film and painting, at once deconstruct genres and recreate them, giving literature new spaces, new contexts, new movements. And yet the passion in her phrasing and the particular reverence she has for language are always apparent, in the lure of lines like, “leaves huddle a bit” and “being/always/fatally/reinscribed/on an old cloth/faintly,/interminably/undone.”
    Decreation opens with a haunting series of poems. These first few lyrics are laced with domestic details bereft of their comfort and safety. “Sleepchains,” the first of the series, links sleep and death:
    Who can sleep when she –
    hundreds of miles away I feel that vast breath
    fan her restless decks.
    Cicatrice by cicatrice
    all the links
    rattle once.
    Here we go mother on the shipless ocean.
    Pity us, pity the ocean, here we go.
      
    The “sleepchains” somehow connect them – the speaker and her mother – but also keep them apart. The links – “cicatrice by cicatrice” – evoke literal chains, but also DNA, cellular structure, the connective particles of being – the genetic connections between a mother and her child. They also evoke fences, barriers – thresholds not to be crossed. Carson stresses that connections are also contradictions: to have a connection is to be separate beings. In another poem she asks, “In the sum of the parts/where are the parts?” The links are the important part because they delineate. Carson draws out this delineation throughout the series using imagery of lines: telephone lines, clotheslines, anchors, spines of






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