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Meek, Anna George. Acts of contortion.

Univ. of Wisconsin Press. 68p. c2002.0-299-18264-9. $12.95. SA

In the first stanza of the long and moving title poem that concludes this Brittingham Prize-winning collection, Meek states "The articulate carnival is molded I from vague feeling." Assuming poetry to be among those written and spoken arts of articulation, it is also true that in some cases the awareness of real art, of poetry, comes from that same source, something rather abstract but very real. Acts of Contortion is such a volume, one in which the reader simply knows, intuits on some level, that he/she is in the presence of honest emotion and charged language.

It accounts for some narrative ambiguity where the impact of story is conveyed more clearly by tone than by linear logic, even somehow addresses the poet's own frustration with words, "...of my own outbursts, crying/that I will always be a citizen of this distance/and the tremors I cannot exchange I for words or music..."

These poems are a marriage of compassion and the artistic blending of music and the physical world where "Mahler's Ninth Symphony cans I for a thousand musicians: twenty-six bones/in each musician's hand. All that music!/All those moving parts." But the vastness of this volume's scope and the depth of its insight might best be seen in "Orchestration," where Meek says "We must desire precision/and love approximation." It is obvious that this poet is striving for the former while realizing that only the latter is possible. That struggle, truly, is the realm of art. James Beschta, Barre, MA
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Author:Beschta, James
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 1, 2003
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