EQUIPOISE by Kathleen Halme


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paper 1-889330-20-5 The second book of poems by the author of Every Substance Clothed (1995) takes much of its inspiration from the North Carolina coastline, where Halme often lingers on the beach and, as the title poem makes clear, where she enjoys the solitude of staying in a lighthouse. The short lyric poems in this fine collection celebrate autonomy, and the virtues of a life unfettered by children and objects. “Autotomy,” one of the weaker poems, directly mocks “breeders,” and boasts of the poet’s breasts, grown for “pleasure.” Elsewhere, especially in a few odd pastorals, Halme exults in her sexuality, but her general aesthetic is quite simple as she asserts in “Plain Poem”: “I get full beauty in moments in fleshes.” Many of her best, often formal, verses begin with a phrase from Marvell, though her conceits are more sensual than metaphysical. “Grace,” a typical piece, links things the poet sees while eating at a seaside restaurant: boys coupling on the beach, dolphins looping, and an odd wave formation. If goldfish could cure Narcissus (—Pushing Narcissus”), she wonders what could solve the marital blues of a neighboring couple (“Antidote to Adultery”). Halme’s slighter poems often venture from the hermetic coastal world she best limns—in “Objects of Desire,” she strains for an allusion to war-torn Bosnia—and her longer poems merely accrete details. Halme seeks “the ache of paradise” in some unlikely places, and in verse that’s often smart and agreeable.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 1-889330-19-1
Page count: 72pp
Publisher: Sarabande
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1998