A continuous elegy

Maureen Alsop’s syntax of loss
by
August 2022, no. 445

Pyre by Maureen Alsop

What Books Press, $36.99 pb, 94 pp

A continuous elegy

Maureen Alsop’s syntax of loss
by
August 2022, no. 445
Maureen Alsop (photograph via author's website)
Maureen Alsop (photograph via author's website)

‘Every sacred language,’ writes Octavio Paz, ‘is secret. And conversely: every secret language … borders on the sacred.’ In the liminal Pyre, poet Maureen Alsop traverses – and erodes – this secret/sacred border, which is also the border of life and death, ‘the valley between our language’ (‘North Channel’). Each of the book’s section titles is a variation on ‘Selenomancy’, defined on the contents page as ‘a divination by the observation of the phases and appearances of the moon’. That Alsop titles multiple poems ‘Sky An Oar’, moreover, betrays the purpose of these divinations: to reach the other side, the ‘village across the waters’ that ‘burned all night’ (‘Witness’). The collection’s challenge, which it mostly meets successfully, is to remain on the compelling side of hermeticism.

Anders Villani reviews 'Pyre' by Maureen Alsop

Pyre

by Maureen Alsop

What Books Press, $36.99 pb, 94 pp

You May Also Like

Leave a comment

If you are an ABR subscriber, you will need to sign in to post a comment.

If you have forgotten your sign in details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to ABR Comments. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.