Books by Molly McQuade

BARBARISM by Molly McQuade
Released: May 15, 2000

"As a result, there isn't a single poem in the collection that works from start to finish. Instead, what we get is a sort of educated Hopkinsesque greeting card verse, humorless and a trifle fatuous."
It is always surprising and frustrating when someone who turns out sprightly and polished prose publishes a book of verse that is something less. On the strength of her collection of essays (Stealing Glimpses, 1999), one would expect former Kirkus contributing editor McQuade to be a sensitive and deft poet. Regrettably, her first collection is murky and, if anything, over sensitive. Virtually all of the 42 poems here are reveries of nature, idealized in ways that contradict the collection's title (which one must assume is meant ironically, although it is hard to tell from reading the poem that bears that name). This book is an example of the pathetic fallacy run riot, at its most hilariously excessive when McQuade suggests the breathless sexual awakening of a delphinium. The versifying is arch, clotted with alliteration for its own sake and riddled with quickly tiresome tricks of shifting parts of speech. There are scattered effective moments, usually when the mad flutterings of the imagery quiet down into a certain stately coherence, or when a rare flash of wit can be found. Occasionally, an image will burst out fresh ("a pelican sagging with spent flight"), but these are the exception rather than the rule. Most of the time, one feels that she has chosen her natural subjects for the mellifluousness of their names, rather than for any actual content. Read full book review >
HISTORY
Released: April 1, 1999

paper 1-889330-26-4 A former contributing editor here at Kirkus and a poet in her own right, McQuade (An Unsentimental Education, not reviewed) adds to Poetry Month her unique blend of familiar essay and literary profile in this collection of light and jaunty pieces mostly about contemporary verse. Even the non-poetry pieces—about dancers, movies, Georgia O—Keefe, and prose writer Lorrie Moore—are filtered through the eyes of a poet seeking inspiration in their analogous techniques. A number of literary profiles (William Meredith, Adrienne Rich, Charles Simic, Galway Kinnell) incorporate interviews, but without the dull Q&A format. McQuade is also an acute observer of the poetry world—in two essays, she surveys the business of poetry with a journalist's savvy and elsewhere finds inspiration in the editorial careers of Margaret Anderson (The Little Review) and Harriet Monroe (Poetry). Talking around poems, and preferring analogy to explication, McQuade also indulges her sense of whimsy in essays about the ghost of E.B. White, her childhood pet goat, and her address book. The title piece captures her main aesthetic concern: her sense of the artist as observer. Chatty, casual, and often digressive, McQuade introduces a wild civility to the public discourse on poetry. Read full book review >