Honored as one of "Nine Great Poetry Books of 2014"-- The New Yorker
" The Poem She Didn't Write is a breakup book, full of the kinds of invective and taunts honed by a person who has spent, as all of us have now spent, infinite hours online.Read more...
Honored as one of "Nine Great Poetry Books of 2014"--The New Yorker
"The Poem She Didn't Write is a breakup book, full of the kinds of invective and taunts honed by a person who has spent, as all of us have now spent, infinite hours online. Its complex tones arise from the poet's wanting equally to seduce and to repel a lover whose deepening silence only provokes rhetorical escalation. The effect can be like reading e-mails in someone's drafts folder--but who wouldn't want to read Davis's drafts?"--Dan Chiasson, The New Yorker
"Davis' first full collection in a decade should be stamped with the warning, 'Buckle up , ' because entering this writer's mind is one wild ride of digression, mutation, and syntactical and typographical experimentation... Davis has clearly put the poetic rule book through a shredder, and there's much to appreciate about that."--Booklist
"There is an eerie precision to her work--like the delicate discernment of a brain surgeon's scalpel--that renders each moment in both its absolute clarity and ultimate transitory fragility."--Rita Dove
In her first full collection in a decade, Olena Kalytiak Davis revivifies language and makes love offerings to her beloved reader. With a heightened post-confessional directness, she addresses lost love, sexual violence, and the confrontations of aging. In her characteristic syntactical play, sly slips of meaning, and all-out feminism, Davis hyperconsciously erases the rulebook in this memorable collection.
From "The Poem She Didn't Write":
when she stopped
began in winter and, like everything else, at first, just waited for spring
in spring noticed there were lilac branches, but no desire,
no need to talk to any angel, to say: sky, dooryard, _______,
when summer arrived there was more, but not much
nothing really worth noting
and then it was winter again--nothing had changed: sky, dooryard, ________, white,
frozen was the lake and the lagoon, some froze the ocean
(now you erase that) (you cross that out)
and so on and so forth . . .
Olena Kalytiak Davis is a first-generation Ukrainian American who was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. Educated at Wayne State University, the University of Michigan Law School, and Vermont College, she is the author of three books of poetry. She currently works as a lawyer in Anchorage, Alaska.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-09-15
- Reviewer: Staff
In this long-awaited follow-up to 2003’s Shattered Sonnets, Love Cards, and Other Off and Back Handed Importunities (which is being reissued alongside this collection), Davis crafts a postconfessional, lyric “I,” charting a fresh path that remains respectful of poetic traditions. In taking on some of the most common poetic tropes and subjects (and regularly referencing the canon more broadly), Davis startles with shifting syntax and punctuation, making new forms from the old. She concludes one sonnet with the couplet, “here (this) my wicked rest: i scribes this text./ “i” blithely rhymed: fuck! All... is aural sex,” and saucily declares that “the new style is the old style: from behind.” As the work progresses, Davis toys with the notions of joy and sorrow, making both emotions newly understandable in the poet’s unique worldview. While not every piece rises to the level of the best poems in the collection, Davis offers readers plenty to linger over. Fertile and funny, her poems combine intellect and craft to reshape even the most ordinary tropes into something entirely surprising—e.g., “My geranium is better than all of summer/ she does not need a new lover, yet// there is nothing yellow about her/ she’s thinking about death.” (Oct.)