I feel a pleasure of never contained sweep over me, now that I know place is never Clear or wholly settled, not even the veins on the underside of a leaf, its freedoms.
At once tender and fierce, concise and associative, Laurie Sheck’s Captivity charts and explores the textures and movements of mind in her gorgeous, long-lined poetry. Placed at intervals throughout the book are poems the author calls “Removes,” which take their initial impulse from American captivity narratives and constitute a profoundly felt inquiry into what is familiar and what is strange, what it means to be displaced and radically apart, and how disruption itself becomes its own kind of opportunity. The poems describe a psychic territory both desolate and exultant, as Sheck embraces the fragmentary, yet stays alert to what remains “mysteriously standing.” She writes, “Thinking has a quiet skin. But I feel the break and fled of things inside it. ” In Captivity, Sheck illuminates this shadow-thought world that governs what we are and attains provocative glimpses of the fluid self.
The squat, long-lined poems of Sheck's fifth collection meditate on American captivity narratives stories popular in the late 17th century, such as Mary Rowlandson's A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson, often about abduction by Native Americans as metaphors for the limitations of consciousness and the poetry that tries to render it. These narratives are directly addressed in the 17 "Removes," a term taken from Rowlandson's book. Elsewhere, Sheck (Black Series) references other singularly American figures, including Dickinson, Stevens, William James and Emerson. Sheck relishes the "slow conversion of myself into nothingness," a necessary (and often violent) step toward understanding "this chain of feelings by which we mean (if it is that) a self." These poems at times seem to court vagueness words such as "scatter," "broken," and "elsewhere" are among Sheck's most precise descriptive terms. Some readers may find that Sheck exhausts her themes and the time from which they originate; modernity appears infrequently, and when it does in the form of "a computer screen candescing," the human genome and one "marketing director" the effect is jarring. Throughout, however, Sheck's long lines sustain an elegant uncertainty, and her fractured syntax calls both Dickinson and Gerard Manley Hopkins to mind: "The seconds slant and coarse with split-asunder." (Feb.)Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.