Another Woman Who Looks Like Me. Poems by Lyn Lifshin.
( Black Sparrow Press David R. Godine, Publisher. PO BOX 450 Jaffrey, NH. 03452
( http://www.blacksparrowbooks.com/ ) $19.

The famed Black Sparrow Press now owned by the venerable Boston-area publisher David R. Godine, has just released a collection by poet Lyn Lifshin: "Another Woman Who Looks Like Me." Anyone who has had even minimal exposure to the small press knows Lifshin. Since the early 70's she has graced the pages of poetry journals both obscure and prominent. I don't think Lifshin can be grouped in any particular school. She has a unique voice that speaks to the independent woman, the carnal man, and the dutiful daughter. Her poetry is deeply personal, and peppered with beautiful, haunting and visceral images.

Leave it to Lifshin to weave a wonderful poem about hair. And in "I wear my hair long" there is so much more than hair there:

"to remember old boyfriends'
aunts making appointments,
telling stylist to cut it short.
in a flip. I wear my hair long
to protest against all the
shaved heads at Auschwitz,
against the threats of PhD
examiners to look more
professional and dignified.
I want it to smell of lilac wind,
want my old cat in its warmth.
I long to hang my hair out
windows to shy lovers…

My hair begs to be touched
caught in your fingers,
your teeth. It smells of lilies,
gardenias, some animal you
never want not near once
you've stroked it…." (59)

In the poem "The emptiness, Nancy says" Lifshin addresses the void we all seek to fill, and probably never will:

"most everyone
has it. You can't
eat enough, hold
enough people
near you, can't
drink or take
enough pills,
have enough
lovers and babies…" (178)

The poems in this collection cover the waterfront of Lifshin's life. They deal with her childhood, her emerging sexuality, her relationship with her mother in her prime and decline, and everything in between. A quote on the back cover from the San Francisco Review of Books expertly sums up Lifshin:

"You might as well get used to it: Lifshin is here to stay. For me, she's sexy. For women, she's an archetype of gutsy independence. As a poet, she's nobody but herself. Frightening prolific and utterly intense. One of a kind. Highly Recommended.

by Doug Holder

Last updated: September 28, 2006