THE DOUBLE TASK by Gray Jacobik


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Winner of the Juniper Prize, this volume of Jacobik’s impressionistic verse celebrates feeling over intellect (—one can over- think a thing—), which partly explains her lack of clarity in poems that awkwardly incorporate cultural allusions into an odd polysyllabic vocabulary. In —The Election,— Jacobik declares herself the true heir to Anne Sexton (—not a great poet—), but without Sexton’s fears and mad self-absorption. Instead, she embraces the everyday——There’s too much of life to take in——in her affirmations of her own sexuality, music, and nature. But her imprecision causes sentimentality and confused thinking: In —The Breakfast Room,— she speaks of —ephemerality become tangible—; in —Lines,— her distinction between how we read prose and poetry is simply odd; and in —Figuration,— about her poet friend who —eschews metaphor,— she reveals her own misunderstanding of poetics. Anecdotal poems find little justification beyond their peculiarity: A man in an elevator ejaculates against her skirt (—Darkness—); an afternoon sexual encounter takes places in the house where Clover Adams committed suicide (—A Prelapsarian Mood Piece—). Dead deer and a crow eating a ’small creature— make Jacobik think, not surprisingly, of death—typical of the tautological imagination displayed here.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1998
ISBN: 1-55849-142-2
Page count: 88pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1998