The End of Beauty by Jorie Graham
Jorie Graham is one of the great modern poets, and yet she’s also so misunderstood. I remember reading a New Republic piece that referred to her style as “algebraic”. One New York Times critic suggested that she was “made” with the blessings of institutional powers, which granted her a Pulitzer prize, teaching position, etc. Some have called her poetry “lifeless”. But that’s so far off-course. The joy of reading Graham rests largely in two things: First, that her poetry comes from a kind of intellectual restlessness and that she’s always concerned with how the mind rolls across words. She’s playful, metaphysical, philosophical — often asking us to examine this poet-reader “space-between” like a geography or a stare. She does this beautifully in “The Lovers” in this book, The End of Beauty as well as in the poem “Swarm”. Her poems are about cosmic possibilities, wandering unsaids, blank spaces full of cargo, bewildering enjambments, and the kind of verse that is wholly incomplete without the reader. I love poets that strive even beyond their own reach. “Rouse says the dark” — writes Graham. It’s no wonder she called her first career-spanning collection “The Dream of the Unified Field” — because she is forever exploring that mysterious, thin netherworld where language touches thought like waves meeting sand. A poet who can do that as well as Graham does is worthy of our praise.
Submitted by: David D Robbins, Jr.