Carol Snow's award-winning poetry has been admired and celebrated as "work of difficult beauty" (Robert Hass), "ever restless, ever re-framing the frame of reference" (Boston Review), teaching us "how brutally self-transforming a verbal action can be when undertaken in good faith" (Jorie Graham). In this, her third volume, Snow continues to mine the language to its most mysterious depths and to explore the possibilities its meanings and mechanics hold for definition, transformation, and emotional truth. These poems place us before, and in, language--as we stand before, and in, the world.
The Seventy Prepositions comprises three suites of poems. The first, "Vocabulary Sentences," reflects on words and reality by taking as a formal motif the sort of sentences used to test vocabulary skills in elementary school. The poems of the second suite, "Vantage," gather loosely around questions of perspective and perception. The closing suite finds its inspiration in the Japanese dry-landscape gardens known as karesansui, such as the famous rock garden at Ryoan-ji Temple in Kyoto. Here the poet approaches composition as one faces a "miniature Zen garden," choosing and positioning words rather than stones, formally, precisely, evocatively.
Vocabulary Sentences Bit
Also to Illustrate
Conversion ( . quietly)
Horizon: Olympic Range, Washington State, Autumn 1996
Use of Italics
Elegy: Anniversary Waltz
— Karesansui —
Acknowledgments of Permission
Carol Snow is Codirector of the Blue Bear School of American Music in San Francisco. She is the author of Artist and Model (1990), which received the 1990 Book Award from the Poetry Center at San Francisco State University, and For (California, 2000).
And these are certainly among the best poems in English of recent years: sharp, intelligent, formally stunning, lyrical, and moving. The poems are difficult, complexly webbed and allusive, but inescapably musical.—Tessa Joseph, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Cold Mountain Review
“Ultimately Snow contends with methods of seeing, thinking, listening, and conversing. She does this with a grace of intellect and wit of will. . . . In this book, Snow manages to do the improbable; she topples the tyranny of Self by situating it everywhere, or nowhere; you pick. But first, you must read it.”—Denise Nico Leto Xantippe
"This is a brilliant, funny, subtle book. One of Carol Snow's subjects is the tenuousness and ferocity of relationship, so it shouldn't have come as a surprise, though it does, that she has made a feast from the subject of prepositions."—Robert Hass
"A poetry—post-traumatic—half-seen, half-remembered, half-named--the event more than half gone—still every half-part is a whole, when space is equal to it. Here is a new and mesmerizing way of thinking about things."—Fanny Howe
"Carol Snow's staggering, ruthless poems hold a heroic quality that feels rare these days. With a string of improbable comrades--Lewis Carroll, Sappho, A.R. Luria, and the Zen gardeners of Ryoanji Temple, Kyoto--she tracks the intricate twists and turns of American language towards uncharted territory. Every fork in thought bristles with danger and decision. A brave book indeed!"—Andrew Schelling