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Links to the reviews I posted during the recent LJ outage. I am not reposting, but anonymous and open ID commenting are open over there (though I would appreciate some kind of name signed to anonymous comments so as to be able to maintain continuity of conversation).

Day 325: Trilogy, H.D.. Poetry, unfairly overlooked lesbian author.

Day 326: Paying For It, Chester Brown. Graphic novel. Interesting but highly problematic memoir about prostitution from the perspective of a customer.

Day 327: Faerie Winter, Janni Lee Simner. Good YA fantasy by a friend of mine.

Day 328: The Invention of Morel, Adolfo Bioy Casares. Unfairly obscure Argentinian science fiction indirectly responsible for the movie Last Year at Marienbad.

Day 329: Earth X, Alex Ross and Jim Krueger. Graphic novel. Dark Marvel Comics AU with a very interesting take on Captain America.

Day 330: Dragonbreath: No Such Thing As Ghosts, Ursula Vernon. Fifth in Vernon's fun series of illustrated kids' books; not a strong entry.

And the two since made it through crossposting.
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Review of the book I read Wednesday, July 20th.

H.D. (Hilda Doolittle, 1886-1961) is not one of the poets I imprinted on early, despite her having gone to my college (they don't boast about it the way they do Marianne Moore). I think it is because she was briefly engaged to Ezra Pound, though fortunately she realized better, and then the whole Imagist label that gets stuck onto her work is discouraging. I am not much on Imagist poetry.

So most of what I know about her I have heard from [personal profile] sovay, who pointed out that I was missing one of the most original women of the twentieth century. Her life is a lovely example of Doing Polyamory Right, and a lot of her work is not Imagist, but riffings on the classical tradition and on Sappho, old myths in new jars. That I find interesting.

Trilogy comprises The Walls Do Not Fall, Tribute to the Angels, and The Flowering of the Rod, which are her Blitz poems. World War II was a very bad time for her. She'd lost a brother in the first World War, and had been to psychoanalysis with Freud in the twenties because she had what was considered to be a paranoiac conviction that a second and worse war was coming. Being proven right was not a consolation.

So her war-poems are an effort to a) argue that the world is all changed, as indeed it was; b) argue that the old stories could be repurposed to the new realities, and that that is what poets and writers and artists are for, in wartime, and so they must not be considered superfluous or less than useful; and c) turn the myths she loved to fit the world around her, that had changed.

The astonishing thing is that she pretty much does it. Points a) and b) go together into the first bit, The Walls Do Not Fall Down, and the other two poems are riffings on c). Tribute to the Angels is the one that's most impressive, if you know much about angel-lore, a densely allusive calling on seven great angels whose names are Biblical and whose purposes in the world are-- not. Her Uriel is a terrifying angel of war: when he is the angel of silence, it is the silence between the bombs.

Her language is modernist, pared down, reminds me of Eliot without his occasional attempts at purposeful obfuscation. When she obfuscates it is because she assumes everyone knows the reference (no, we do not all read classical Hebrew, sorry). Her rhythm is strong and never quite predictable, and her sense of rhyme is true. She does not concede to near-rhymes, ever, nor lets the necessity for a rhyme govern the sense of the words. The form and function are as inseparable as they are with any master poet.

In short, this is lovely stuff, this is brilliant, this is the sort of thing that doesn't make it into the fabled edificiary Western bloody Canon because the author was a mostly-lesbian who had her child choosingly out of wedlock and didn't marry Pound; The Canon could maybe forgive one of those attributes, a child out of wedlock by mistake, say, or respectably monogamous lesbianism, but not more than one, and not marrying Pound may have been deadly anyhow. So her work falls in and out of print, making one to mutter bitter things about Twentieth Century Literature, which somehow feels like a monument rather than a collection of artworks, doesn't it. Poet, novelist, essayist, and master of herself: I look forward to reading more of her.

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