Sunday 11 October 2009

The Damnedly Sensitive Anne Michaels

The first three collections of prize-winning novelist Anne Michael's poetry are available as Poems (Alfred Knopf, 2001). The world of Michaels is always dissolving, hollowing out, drowning and so on: all of which have become rather obious ways of talking about the experiential content of metaphor. Sinuous, fey, loose narratives about the 'distance between us' with little regard for form, punctuated with flashes of wonderful precision, Michael's poetry wears its gendering on its sleeve ('pregnant, androgynous with man...' ) and one soon tires of this display of post-Kristeva feminine sensitivitiy. Glib references to the holocaust and 'history' are further irritations. There is never enough definiteness of language or form to warrant one's interest. It is a pity that one of her finest, and most precise phrases, 'We become inaccurate' serves as an epitaph on the work as a whole.

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