So Late, So Soon: New and Selected Poems by Carol Moldaw
Aurally rich, structurally varied and inventive, sensually textured, these are poems at once passionate and analytical, descriptive and meditative, lyrical and complex—poems that keep one eye on the moon while leveling their gaze at the self and its immediate world. With an alert nuanced intelligence, a sinuous flexible line, Moldaw’s poems turn swiftly and sharply, surprising us in their range and ease, their visionary core.
While, in the quoted words of the painter Agnes Martin, “the mind knows what the eye has not seen,” Moldaw’s exact and sometimes challenging language bring eye and mind together, with revelatory transparency. A wild fire brings into focus her daughter’s unknown birth mother; a columbary outside the hospital window becomes a columbarium as she comes to terms with a friend’s dying of AIDS; tossing the I Ching coins affords the occasion for a long meditative sequence built on distilled moments; overheard piano music catalyzes a reverie of longing; Walter de Maria’s sculpture Lightning Field inspires a layered, penetrating rumination on art and life’s “multi-angled interrelationships.”
Out of acutely observed, deeply felt particulars, Moldaw constructs poetry of imaginative daring that illuminates and transforms the life within us all, repeatedly achieving, to quote from The New Yorker, “lyric junctures of shivering beauty.”
The Widening is a poetic novel, presenting from the inside a portrait of a young woman’s volatile mix of passivity and wildness. Preoccupied with issues of female sexuality and alienation, and by turns picaresque, dark, and edgily erotic, it takes an unnamed girl in the mid-1970s from high school in California through travels in Spain and into college. The Widening is Moldaw’s first novel.
“In an age when literature often hinges on authorial self-construction, Moldaw’s work is a fascinating act of exploration. The world she discovers is dazzling and scary, haunted and generous, ‘flagrant with expectancy.’”—Dennis Nurkse
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