Goodman, Joanna. Trace of one.

Author:Budin, Sue E.
Position:Book Review - Young Adult Review - Brief Article
 
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Univ. of Iowa Press. 52p. c2002. 0-87745-806-5. $13.00. SA

Joanna Goodman is an experimenter with words. She uses them like tools, digging here and there for meanings or at least questions. And often, in her more surreal poems, there's only the scene spread out before us like a canvas blotched with color and lines. In "Measuring Space," she presents such a picture: "... in the unseen worlds that echo and dunk and rise / like marionettes dropped from the hieratic stars." Yet she moves on, in the same piece, to grieving for a friend's death and estrangement from her father.

Some of her images are violent, of children running from burning, crumbling buildings, as if she were witness to an unnamed war. Some pieces are placed in Italy, where she uses names of churches, rivers, or buildings to evoke an emotion or memory. In "Coming of Age," Part I, "The Ritual," she recounts in a prose poem the true experience of sexual initiation in New Guinea, one that comes deliberately to a violent end as the pillars of the temple fall on the young man and woman. Then in Part II, "Hood River," she laments to her lover while traveling west with him: "How I wanted / west on 90, the sky spoonfeeding the Bozeman peaks, to look at you long enough that whatever veil / stops the moment from feeling real / suddenly lifts ..." She attempts to escape the violence, which in Part Il feels like a kind...

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