Winner of a "Discovery"/ The Nation Award
Winner of the 1999 PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry
Some Ether is one of the more remarkable debut collections of poetry to appear in America in recent memory. As Mark Doty has noted, "these poems are more than testimony; in lyrics of ringing clarity and strange precision, Flynn conjures a will to survive, the buoyant motion toward love which is sometimes all that saves us. Some Ether resonates in the imagination long after the final poem; this is a startling, moving debut."
"Yogis practice a method of controlled breathing in which a held breath is released in a series of short, sharp exhalations until the lungs are empty and ready for the next deep inhalation. Flynn's poems measure out pain in just this way, incrementally, memory by memory, fantasy by fantasy. At the epicenter of this meticulously parsed, restrained, and quietly beautiful collection stands a young husbandless mother, a goddess, it seems, of life and of death, who eventually commits suicide and forever haunts her loyal and wounded son. With grace and longing, Flynn steps back into the mindset of a child--preternaturally attuned to the intangible, the ether that carries thoughts, emotion, and the whispered messages of the departed in waves that flow through every wall, whether wood, plaster, or the bones that fail to protect our heart and mind. There is sorrow here, but toughness, too, and Flynn's desire to move beyond the shadows will kindle kindred feelings in his rapt readers. --Donna Seaman"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"A troubled mother with a drug problem who ultimately commits suicide, her menacing boyfriends, and a wayward father populateÄand come to dominateÄFlynn's debut. In these 48 free verse narratives and lyrics framing a plain American vernacular, memory can seem almost a compulsion: "I don't want// to remember her/ reaching up for a kiss, or the television// pouring its blue bodies into her bedroom." Though many of the poems' recollections are considerably starker than these, Flynn never becomes overly graphic or macabre with this potentially overwhelming material, skirting unbridled confessionalism or mawkish sentimentality through quick successions of imagery. The drawback in Flynn's approach, however, is that it limits the poems to dramatization and description, and provides little room for more complex characterizations or insights about the small-scale tragedies depicted. Charged figurative language does make its way in, however, sometimes touched with surrealism. Such dazzling surface effects sometimes come off as mannered and opportunistic, as in a stylized dramatic monologue of the mother handling her gun, "the hard O of its mouth/ made of waiting, each bullet/ & its soft hood of lead. Braced// solid against my thigh, I'd feed it/ with my free hand, my robe open// as if nursing, practicing/ my hour of lead, my letting go." Flynn occasionally departs from such dramas, but the dark tone and themes of loss and impermanence persist through recurrent references to disastersÄplane crashes, shipwrecks, floodsÄthat can't quite expand the range of the poems. This first collection nevertheless presents an earnest sounding out of painful losses, and an honest feeling out of survival and selfhood. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
|| Saint Paul, Minn. :Graywolf Press,2000
85 pages ; 23 cm