Saturday, January 25, 2014

Book Review: Madness, Rack, and Honey by Mary Ruefle

This collection of lectures on poetry is a fascinating, perceptive, and occasionally very funny reflection on words and what words can do. A lecture juxtaposing Emily Dickinson, Emily Bronte, and Anne Frank stands out in particular. Mary Ruefle's writing gambols about and sometimes the wheels seem like they're on the verge of coming off but then she reels it in and the whole lecture coheres better than you thought possible. As the collection wears on the lectures get shorter and seem to fragment into reflective but still connected shards. We don't need massive online courses as long as poetry professors see fit to publish their works in collections like this -- reading this book is like sitting in class with a brilliant, humane, slightly batty poet who talks about life as much as she talks about poetry. Recommended for anyone with an interest in words and writing.

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