Young poets ought constantly be reminded of Oscar Wilde's salutary dictum that â€”All bad verse is sincere.â€” Apparently Bonnell was not. Her debut collection suffers from such a heaviness of purposeâ€”inflated and freighted with a naturalistic rhetoric that feels justified in counting â€”umber,â€” â€”glaucous,â€” and â€”glossolaliaâ€” as vernacular termsâ€”that the slim volume all but groans beneath the burden of its load. Everything here, from the overwrought titles (â€”Happiness Is an Unending Boliviaâ€” ) to the precious phrasings (â€”clapbeat love deathmeat sweetâ€”) to the juvenile aesthetics (â€”[Poetry] comes on like a seizure / . . . / The shock of recognition / knocks you into yourself / and you must haul yourself out / or youâ€”ll come to / choking on your tongueâ€”), announces the presence of an untried hand richer in confidence than experience or craft, and the â€”Eurydiceâ€” cycleâ€”which rehashes the Orpheus myth in a contemporary idiom (â€”Orpheus had red hair, wore suspenders. / As a child he had an ant farm, carried an aluminum 45â€”)â€”only strengthens the impression that this is an academic work by a clever undergraduate. Confidence is a key to success, however, and the author's confidence is winning in its own right. But for the work to succeed, such self-assurance must convince the reader it's grounded in a talent stronger than the one displayed here. Young wine not nearly ready to be drunk.
Pub Date: Oct. 14, 1999
Page Count: 64
Publisher: "Millcreek (50 Congress St., Boston, MA 02109)"