Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

The Rented Violin

Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

The Rented Violin

Article excerpt

POETRY The Rented Violin, by Karen Whalley. Ausable Press, November 2003. $14

"Beauty is a form of suffering," declares this book's opening poem, a volley across the bow of a poetic landscape where "nothing ever ends / And nothing ever lasts." Whalley's work tends to find its occasion not in the standard Wordsworthian moments of overwhelming emotion recollected in tranquility, but rather in the explicitly ordinary: suburban neighbors' voices mingling with highway noise, the sounds of work being done in gardens, the Tuesday morning garbage truck. The best of these poems imitate unfiltered thought, moving with no apparent effort from the immediate (for example, the scent of French-milled soap in a leisurely bath) to the imponderable (mass murder, in the form of 2OOi's terrorist attacks). Their tone is frank, unguarded, and elegant; when she arrives at a transcendent moment, this poet is able to say more than she knows, and far more than her speaker's situation implies. …

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