Thursday, February 22, 2018

Book Review: 'Small Enterprise' by Mary Biddinger

Thank goodness for the abundance of poetry coming to our attention, through journals, in eBooks, and anthologies and in books such as SMALL ENTERPRISE by Ohio poet Mary Biddinger. There was a time a few decades ago when it seemed that the art of writing poetry was seeming abandoned, yet now here we are in a time of instant social communication and the luxury of reading poetry by poets who know how to distill and make visible and palpable those aspects of being alive, of feeling, of loving, of aching, and exhilaration and of depression appear on a well considered page and remind us of just how ancient and still viable this art form is.

Then on the stage steps Mary Biddinger and her alchemy pours forth with eruptions of words and ideas that challenge us at every level while they provide some of the finer poems being written today. At times her poems confuse - and that is fine because in the middle of the night, after digesting these poems, the light comes on and the felling responds to the words she has placed before us so artfully, `untangling past from present, through poems preoccupied with gentrification, imaginary coin-operated machinery, and an uncanny doubling of good and wicked selves.'


Your novel wintered in the East Village,
a coldwater flat with inexplicable
walls. Your novel was a bag of beads.
Your novel came in the back seat
of a taxi. Your novel made grievous
errors that were the genius
errors of a second favorite carriage
horse naked in a public park
along with everyone else and no one
cared but me and my poor skirt.
Your novel was neither loose, baggy,
nor monstrous, except for one
Sunday we will not discuss but recall
often, privately. Your novel was no
Versailles. Your novel was born behind
a craft store, under your jacket,
and you tried to reveal it to somebody
but your novel was not yet ready.
Your novel was the train cry background
of all my childhoods. Your novel
was a cautionary tale in the shower
with a skimpy nylon curtain.
Your novel was the second of two films
about the continental divide.

Word magic, alchemy, challenging and exciting – these are the works of a master poet. Grady Harp, October 15

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.