In January, we were thrilled when so many of the nominees for the National Book Critics Circle Awards were women—some of whom we’d been cheering already, others new discoveries. So we waited with bated breath to see how the awards would come out. We weren’t disappointed that garlands went to Edith Pearlman’s novel Binocular Vision, Mira Bartok’s autobiography The Memory Palace, and—for poetry—the sly work of Laura Kasischke, for her new work Space, in Chains.
Kara Dorris wrote of the work in American Literary Review: ”Space, in Chains is Laura Kasischke’s eighth book of poetry, and, again, she carries us into a world that is tangible and temporal, devastating and gratifying. . . . This collection of poetry speaks to the chains around us, visible or not, from the smallest molecule, to the everyday, to the unthinkable loss of a loved one. Kasischke reveals these bindings through extraordinary imagery and inspired syntactic control, knowing the exact moment to reveal or disguise, to accelerate or tap the breaks, creating poetry of poignant beauty and intoxicating truths.”
We can’t wait to read Space, in Chains (go here to buy the book). Copper Canyon Press has also offered these brief glimpses of her work, including the title poem. And below, a brief clip of the poet herself, reading an earlier poem that’s just as intoxicating.
We offer great congratulations to Laura Kasischke, and hope for many more years of her guidance.
The call of the one duck flying south
so far behind the others
in their neat little v, in their
competence of plans and wings, ifyou didn’t listen you would thinkit was a cry for helpor sympathy—friends! friends!—but it isn’t.Silence of the turtle on its back in the street.Silence of the polar bear pulling its wounded weight onto the ice.Silence of the antelope with a broken leg.Silence of the old dog asking for no further explanation.Howwas it I believed I wasGod’s favorite creature? I,who carry my feathery skeleton across the sky now, callingout for all of us. I, who am doubt now, with a song.
BrieflyHere and there some scrap of beauty gets snatched from this or that: Onechild’s voice rising above the children’s choir. A few wild notes of laughterpassing through the open window of a passing car. That pink handkerchiefwaved at the parade. The tiny Nile-blue tile broken at the edge of the mosaic—all shining accident and awe. And thislast second or two of dreamingin which your facereturns to me completely. Noteven needing to be, beingso alive again to me.
Space, in ChainsThings that are beautiful, and die. Things that fall asleep in the afternoon, insun. Things that laugh, then cover their mouths, ashamed of their teeth. Astrong man pouring coffee into a cup. His hands shake, it spills. His wife fallsto her knees when the telephone rings. Hello? Goddammit, hello?Where is their child?Hamster, tulips, love, gigantic squid. To live. I’m not endorsing it.Any single, transcriptional event. The chromosomes of the roses. Flagella,cilia, all the filaments of touching, of feeling, of running your little handhopelessly along the bricks.Sky, stamped into flesh, bending over the sink to drink the tour de force ofwater.It’s all space, in chains—the chaos of birdsong after a rainstorm, the steamrising off the asphalt, a small boy in boots opening the back door, steppingout, and someone calling to him from the kitchen,Sweetie, don’t be gone too long.