Karen Rigby (author); CHINOISERIE; Ahsahta Press (Poetry: Poetry) $17.50 ISBN: 9781934103258
Byline: Holly Wren Spaulding
Winner of the 2011 Sawtooth Poetry Prize, selected by Paul Hoover, Karen Rigby's debut collection simmers with disquiet and the cosmopolitan smarts of one who may be so self-sufficient in the hard world that she can write, "I understand why a man rapes / before dawn: for the red-rimmed eye, / fearful and waiting." This passage and others suggest that the way to survive femaleness is through knowledge, which, in the case of this writer, seems mainly derived from those significant works of film and literature which comprise any hip coed's liberal arts education.
Rigby quotes the Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca: "But forgetfulness does not exist, dreams do not exist; flesh exists," then proceeds to write how others have seen the body and the flesh -- filmmakers like Annaud and Kazan, and performers like Dietrich and Hayworth. But these are other artists' visions, others' bodies. Rigby stands apart: the keen observer, fraught with an appetite that appears to go unsatisfied, possibly due to self-denial. She's hungry but so contained that one wonders if she'll be able to cross the distance between her own desire and that which gives true sustenance rather than merely the representation of it. As a reader, one feels some pleasure at being able to follow the many allusions and references, but also a little bored with the...