On Laura Kasischke

Stephanie Burt

Where Now is Laura Kasischke’s tenth book of verse (Copper Canyon, £23). She has also written young adult novels, science fiction, historical fiction, books you might label as mysteries or thrillers, and realist novels about present-day adults – 22 books in all over 25 years. Usually, when I read a big Selected, I find myself thinking about how the poet has changed, how far she has come, or else about her limits and when she began to spin her wheels. You could read Where Now, in the wrong mood, and do either, or both. But reading this book has produced, for me, neither reaction. Instead, I thought, not for the first time, about what Kasischke has kept on doing well: her depictions of mothers, teens, infants and the elderly; of friendship, hookups, couples, family and the sex that can create or destroy them; her novelistic detail; her irregular rhyme and wild enjambments; her lists; her brief allegories and her braided anecdotes. Each gift supports the rest: the result is a body of poetry alert not just to what the poet has seen and heard, but to what other people have asked from her, to the demands we make on one another, and to what we seek in return.

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