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A Palace of Pearls

A Palace of Pearls

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A Palace of Pearls

3/5 (2 valutazioni)
68 pagine
28 minuti
Dec 11, 2012


- Copper Canyon has been invested in Jane Miller's work for nearly 20 years, and this is the fifth book we've published - In our "Weird Review Quotes" file, Jane has a doozy: "Reading Jane Miller's poetry is like channel-surfing on acid." - Palace of Pearls was written in a fever-pitch of inspiration, over one summer--"the writing came fast, everyday," she says. What she doesn't say is that it's brilliant. - she got her MFA from Iowa and has taught at the prestigious University of Arizona program since 1987
Dec 11, 2012

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A Palace of Pearls - Jane Miller



My dead father always makes me think of living

I mean thinking of him dead always moving

across the sky west to east

until the full moon just breaking over



Lightning lights the moon’s shroud

the surface of my body is excited

like sharp stabs of emotion in love

for whose art the sun is god

tonight the senses spring from the soul

as once was thought

a brief release of something unseen then enlightenment

like a gaslamp struck

embarking on a long weekend alone a long week a season a year

another year father trying to pierce the dark

thinking is only ever provisional

this is what I think now that we are both alone

I can’t remember enough I make shit up

our time together is now a feeling

and all my thinking about you the flicker of event

the bond of physiognomy a child’s distant melodic greeting

by all accounts sketchy lest I make too much of them

lost just in time nothing serious

on my own reconnaissance some admire me some feel sorry

I’ve spent most of my life

thinking art would make sense of it



I’m going to see what I can see

whenever it flashes

in the night sky fighter-jets practice

won’t their metals attract lightning they appear not to move Jesus

the shadow leaks out of the thing like a fluid but has no relation

to real shadow perfect and perfectly unreflective

is it bloody

I’ll call it an accident

that way there can be no relief no foreboding all event



Do you know how long it has been since a moral choice presented itself

and the wrong choice was made

not two minutes

why is it not quiet between lightning and thunder as if someone were asking

do you have other articulable feelings if so express them now

tragedy ensues

with a laser blast from the cockpit

the dangled finger of God makes contact



The jumping cholla detaches a finger of stem covered in barbed sheath

that helps the stem stick

rather than fall from the victim

the stem must be withdrawn carefully

like the point of an arrow or fishhook

in the

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  • (2/5)
    A Palace of Pearls is based upon the Middle Age Arab kingdom of Al-Andalus which was a pleasure palace/fortress ("a model for ethnic tolerance") that fell during the Spanish inquisition. Jane uses it as a political and aesthetic architecture in order to investigate our current political crises(eh) and personal notions of the past and present.Miller also follows Federico García Lorca’s relationship to these Moorish legends, and the politics that led to his assassination. Jane does create an almost physical stride through the book. There's an exertion that puts a lot of pressure on the reader. To a fault I think. No meditation. No stopping for anything. Jane does not dwell in these poems, she doesn't live in the architecture she works so hard to create (or re-create or whatever). She's just continuously toppling and rebuilding these instances, sort of turning them into steam. But steam does not a poem make. So ehh. Two stars.
  • (4/5)
    Miller’s poetry here strikes me as cumulative as well as accumulative. Significance accrues as one reads through the collection. In this sense, her poems function somewhat like the prose in a novel of ideas, both self-reflective and outward-looking. A Palace of Pearls is comprised of thirty-four numbered poems plus a coda, that is, the numerals 1-34 function as titles. The last line of each of the numbered poems is written in capital letters. These lines in turn form, in numerical order, the lines of the final poem entitled “Coda,” a formal choice that highlights the inseparability of one poem from another.
    Miller's writing is elegant, but does not grasp at the gorgeous in language; this is poetry to be felt and thought with one's eyes wide open, not poetry that makes one swoon. All to the better, since this is no romanticized retreat into what Yves Bonnefoy (writing about the French romantics) called the “pretentiousness of the me,” even though Miller doesn’t hesitate to make use of the raw material of her personal life. This is not Language poetry either, even though it is intimately about the using and uses of language and the very notion and nature of use: what is the use of poetry? what does poetry do or accomplish?, how does (or should) a poet engage notions of culpability and responsibility vis-à-vis her world, her situation? In "21" she says, “people are cut they’re frightened/ they want to know why they want to know/ where they are dying well aware/ it is not in this poem”. There is an element of reportage in A Palace of Pearls, the eye of the journalist (from the root meaning daily) issuing field reports on art, architecture, history, love, and war. Numerous themes or “subjects” weave in and out, among which are the painters Goya and Caravaggio (shadows), Andalusia, the Alhambra, the poet Lorca (it is a household employee of his family who enacts for him and his brother the tale of the Palace of Pearls), the Inquisition (and by extension, the Holocaust), the poet’s dying/ dead father, the poet’s girlfriend on a trip to Italy, Naples (Caravaggio was stranded in Naples), Pompeii and Rome, the Arizona desert, and a honeymoon in Hawaii. Even though Miller claims in "22" that “history is the last thing poems should tell/ and stories next to last so poetry is all/ a scent of berry like a splash of destiny/ which hints at the best of life and after its small/ thrill passes like a small lost civilization/ it can be solace and sadness as well . . . . the poem restores nothing,” I think that A Palace of Pearls, its art, landscapes and travel memoirs included, admirably succeeds in bearing witness.