Reading what writers who identify as poets say about verse can be waftish and atomized like verse itself. Straight talk doesn’t go with the territory. Richard Deming introduces the Poetry – March 2023 portfolio celebrating Ann Lauterbach with a 1-page amuse-bouche. He works references to Samuel Beckett and William Carlos Williams into his beginning:
In her work — fierce, complexly lyric — we see some of Beckett’s struggles with silence… In Lauterbach’s poems we catch sympathetic resonances of Williams’s insistence on particulars as the engine for esthetic insight.
Then he quotes a paragraph by Lauterbach herself, from her 2008 book of essays titled The Night Sky: Writings on the Poetics of Experience. I’ll paraphrase it. She says loftily that the artist’s job is to “release materials” into a “middle ground” in order to connect with someone else, but also to foment awareness of people who are elsewhere, even far away. Something like that.
In his last paragraph, Professor Deming says this:
[Lauterbach’s] poems are, again and ever, an act of the mind testing the integrity — structural, moral — of the world.
In his finale he uses the word “wonder” 8 times, including this:
A wonder without sentimentality, a complex, difficult wonder that needs at last to be earned. A wonder like that.
Ending is a pirouette:
Did I say “wonder”? I meant “a world.” Ann Lauterbach means the world. Let’s put it that way. What else is there?
Make of it what you will. It’s starkly free of particulars about the work it introduces, which is just as well. What follows it is a flight of Lauterbach’s materials — a tray of versecraft specimens for the reader to roll on the tongue, earning his wonder.
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