Monday, July 27, 2009
Review of LOST HORSES, Poems by Lyn Lifshin, 2009, Presa Press, PO Box 792, Rockford, MI 49341, 36 pages, $6.
By Barbara Bialick
For Lyn Lifshin’s ever-growing fan base, the chapbook LOST HORSES can be a challenge to understanding her inner creative process as seen through 20 dreams that evolved into poems. I’m not a dream interpreter, so I’d have to check out some dream and nightmare archetypes to do full justice to this curious collection, but I’m not motivated to do so.
Still, as poems in their own right, the book is written by an experienced hand at it, forming long columns that trail down the length of the pages, often in iambic pentameter or quadrameter. She has recurring imagery of sexual fantasy, worry about losing her cat, her poetry career, and most poignantly, feelings of sadness about her late mother.
One example is BAD DREAM # 2791: “The old Vt house,/it’s enormous from the first frame on/…on the top/floor my mother is dead. It can’t be her/my heart is insisting.”
Or, DREAM OF MY MOTHER PICKING UP MY UNCLE AND BUKOWSKI”
“I haven’t slept well but if/Bukowski is coming, I want to/put my Outsider issues on him/out…What clothes/would Buk want to see/a woman in?/…I am certain I/better clean up the house though they/all, my mother, my uncle and/Buk, are still dead.”
One nightmare image that is particularly awful is the DREAM RUINED BY A DOG-SIZED CENTIPEDE”!
The last and title poem is haunting—IN HER DREAM OF THE LOST HORSES is intriguingly obscure: “they gather by the hill,/once elegant limbs/shattered, made/whole again/…in shadows where she/imagines the lost horses,/she fingers the pebbles/of their names.”
For only $6, this Lifshin book is certainly worth buying if you want to get introduced to or learn more about the author and her writing skill. Perhaps then you’ll want to move on to her more than 125 books and four anthologies of women writers. Or, as her bio continues, “Her poems have appeared in most of the litmags in the USA”!