Spar
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Spar

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  121 ratings  ·  10 reviews
Karen Volkman's award-winning collection Spar has as its central form a highly compressed, musical variant of the prose poem. Volkman develops a new lyric density that marries the immediacy of image-centered poetry to the rhythmic resources of prose. Her first poem begins, "Someone was searching for a Form of Fire, " and this wild urge to seek form -- and thus definition -...more
Paperback, 72 pages
Published February 5th 2002 by University Of Iowa Press
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Farren
Way back at the beginning of the semester I stated my intentions as looking for a way to allow lyric to marry narrative naturally in my own poems. My assumption has always been that narrative should allow lyric elements; in Karen Volkman's "Spar" the focus seems to be quite the opposite. In the incredibly deft acrobatic wordplay, concise and provocative imagery, the outlines of a love affair gone horribly awry shift and fade, materialize only to shift again. There is no pinpointing:

And when the...more
Wade
I wanted to like this book more, as I quite enjoyed Volkman's reading at GMU last spring, but found myself getting annoyed at the sound/alliteration heavy prose poems that form the bulk of the book. Ultimately, the poems here are too self-conscious in their reliance on sound as a device to carry the work. Worth a read, I guess, but...
Loren
My copy of this is almost unreadably destroyed from use. I quote it whenever possible. It's like my "Catcher in the Rye." This book contains prose poems, many of which are badly overwrought and obscure and I often can't figure out what I like so much about them until they smack me in the face with some impossible organic truth that I would have thought was impossible to articulate. I find myself perpetually in need of a long-term mystery to unravel, and apparently this book is mine. In a few yea...more
Laura
Excerpts:

The death of water is the birth of air.


. . constellations called
Scatter or Spent Memory or Crown of Yes or Three Maids Slow in Pleasure.


An all-day, all-waking wideness schools the room


A light says why. From all the poor prying. Again we attain a more
regal posture--small bird accompanying slips between our whim.
Where will we flicker, loose as two feathers from a wren's back? Gone,
do not brood for all the hands that miss you. They hardly hold. Don't
wait, one who thought a dark eye c...more
Paul
Nov 01, 2008 Paul rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry
There were some interesting uses of language in her poems, but overall they seemed to be very disjointed to the point where I couldn't really get any meaning out of them. Her style of poetry in this book is not anything I can relate to.

Interestingly enough I heard her speak at a conference and although I knew the meaning of the words she was speaking, their combination wasn't comprehensible. She may as well have been speaking a foreign language I didn't know. I bought her book to see if her poem...more
cristiana
Aug 16, 2007 cristiana rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: poets
this is hard...i was thrilled when i first read it, and in general, i like karen's work a lot. i haven't read it in a while, but when i went back to it, it read a little stiffer and slower than i remembered. maybe this is more based on certain expectations that my memory had built up.

her new sonnets (soon to be published) are pretty great. you can find some published in the last edition of _the canary_.
Craig Morgan Teicher
This is the first book I ever reviewed, when I was a wee grad student. I thought I would hate it, arrogant as I was, but it just kicked my ass. It's really one of the best and strangest explorations of what really makes a poem tick, of where rhythm lives in the language--in the line or in the words themselves. Volman finds many brilliant answers to that question.
Rebecca
I found her in Great American Prose Poems: From Poe to Present and I'm hooked. She is a master of language. Unpredictable and peculiar without being bathetic.

Update: master is a little intense. But she's certainly fresh and worth reading. I liked this one better than her first.
Kent
Please, tell, what part of me is turning curmudgeon, so that I'm unwilling to pull the images of these poems together into a cohesion. I hear it in there, I respect the intelligent and vivid images, I see thematic shadows like some sixth sense. But it lies just beyond me.
Meg
i have a feeling the search engine pulled this up from michelle's page. thanks shel!
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