The poet Barbara Jordan, whose first book, Channel, was the winner of the 1989 Barnard New Women Poets Prize, has won acclaim for her ability to interweave the strands of religion, nature, language, and art in work which shimmers with stylistic elegance. Her second book, Trace Elements, explores residues of meaning and mystery -- of history, belief systems, old categories of classification -- from a place of abandonment or skepticism. What can we know? How do we order knowledge? What are twentieth-century versions of the Fall? These are some of the questions this new collection addresses, in richly textured poems whose form blend freedom and restraint, and whose language has, in the words of Robert Pinsky, "the impact of saturated colors: consonants and vowels in lush cadences, luxuriance of image and phrase".
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"Ammonites," the long, satisfying poem that concludes Jordan's second collection, traces the relationship between memorabilia and art, between relics of life and life itself. An ammonite is a type of ... Read full review