Book Review by Joyce Metzger (for the Small Press Review)


by Lyn Lifshin

2002; 110pp; Pa, ISBN 1-882983-83-1, March Street Press,
3413 Wilshire Drive, Greensboro, NC 27408

Lyn Lifshin is a phenomenon reverberating throughout small press poetry. As a female poet, Lyn has tenaciously persisted over the years; has succeeded where many failed, and continues to write lucidly about life, imaginations, and seething desires.

Lyn Lifshin achieved one goal by becoming one in the stable of poetic writers published by Black Sparrow Press. They published her Paterson Poetry Award-Winning "Before It's Light" in 1999-2000, and "Cold Comfort" in 1997. Lyn has been published to the melodic tune of more than 100 poetry books. She has edited four anthologies of women's writing. Her writing has infused, challenged, uplifted and encouraged in numerous literary and small press poetry publications throughout the USA, and abroad.

You will perch on the seat edge, or seek blinded for yet another hankie as you read, "A New Film About A Woman In Love With The Dead." And who is not? Most women, and not a few men, will identify with death, with the loss of love, with the suddenness of aloneness as things smash together in under dark stillness of the night.

Flash backs and flash forwards abound in Lifshin's poetic musings. She wallows in regret, then swings into a revival of joyful anticipation. Lyn lives life through words. And readers are invited along for the roller coaster ride. She provides a feel for people, events and place, capturing voices, aromas, and sights through sensual allusion.

"Funerals Made You Happy/better than/ Christmas/or New Years./ Maybe you/ saw the coffin as/ a wrapped baby/ put in a mother's arms..."

"My father's Wallet...maybe he abandoned it long before he abandoned us.../This wallet/ must have been as much a time capsule of what he/could walk away from as easily as his heart did from us,/ with its birth certificate listing a date I never knew and/the town of Vilna in the county of Vilnius..."

"In Today's Reviews, A New Film About A Woman In Love With The Dead.../I took it with me on/the metro: love, sex and death..."

"Even My Mother/I think/was a little jealous/of how much I cared./But it's easier, lusting/ for someone dead./They can't still break/the door down, scatter ashes or burn holes/in the bed."

"I Know That When Someone Dies, Those Left Often Are Crying, Feel Abandoned.../I felt abandoned. Year/ago I wanted to bring/you a poem of celebration/like those in the cemetery/on the Mexican Day for the Dead.../" "I Would Have Been Anything You Wanted.../as different from what/ was normal for me as/you were from the you I heard on the air.../I wouldn't have/changed/unless you added or erased a few/lines, would talk or just/keep the expression/you felt best with. I/would have been your/last Duchess/oblivious/to what you might do to/ me next, hardly/caring as long as you/ kept me. I'm patient, good at waiting. Now/that you're dead I/have to be."

This is prime, unadulterated Lifshin poetry. She's a well versed word spinner, haunted by the past while loving to put herself, and the reader, in double jeopardy. There are infinite complications, inspired metaphors,and thoughts to tantalize mind and soul. My advice is; if you aren't familiar with Lyn Lifshin's work, order the book, soon you will recognize yourself as another fan.

Excellent, Lyn. Even on Halloween, this book proved to be another inspired "Lifshin" read.

10/31/2002 Joyce Metzger