Wanton

Angela Hibbs refers to Anne Sexton stylistically and thematically in some of the poems in Wanton. As in Sexton’s work, Hibbs’ better poems have the cathartic release typical of confessional lyric poetry. What Hibbs does best is a pastiche of narrative jump cuts, rendering the narrator’s intimate emotional experiences through logical juxtapositions. In one of her best poems, “The Suite We Disappeared In,” the lines form a clever parallel of experience through conflicting mediums: “The lotus pose-a gulf in my legs/ for my copy of the Iliad/ where you watched the new Gulf War/ gather poolside notoriety.” Further on, the jump cuts gather a sort of traumatic momentum, triggering the awaited catharsis. If you are like me, you will immediately relate to Hibbs’ intense efforts to assimilate her troubling memories into an emotional release on the page. The invisible hand of the printer has set her observations in time and place, but together these pieces give us an honest portrait of Hibbs’ mind at work. The allusions to a singular addressee, her use of “you,” gave me a sense of romantic melodrama: “Your guitar neck is unrepaired. Make of that what you will./ Nothing is healed. Just fixed or unfixed.” The address and tone of psychological distress, vaguely sexual allusions to childhood and past partners reminded me of the lyrics of Tori Amos, and indeed this analogy helped me enjoy Wanton even more. Hibbs has an ear for melodramatic song and makes me wonder if she wouldn’t be equally affective as a songwriter. (Mat Laporte)

by Angela Hibbs, $11.95, 104 pgs, Insomniac Press, 520 Princess Ave, London, ON, N6B 2B8, insomniacpress.com

 

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