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The Infinitesimals

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  160 ratings  ·  19 reviews
"Kasischke's poems are powered by a skillful use of imagery and the subtle, ingenious way she turns a phrase."—Austin American-Statesman

The Infinitesimals stares directly at illness and death, employing the same highly evocative and symbolic style that earned Laura Kasischke the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry. Drawing upon her own experiences with cance
Paperback, 124 pages
Published July 22nd 2014 by Copper Canyon Press (first published May 13th 2014)
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Forrest Gander
Mar 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
And then I saw

as a snapshot of a statue of a woman saying
certain things forever. But…

Absence-haunted, The Infinitesimals explores a dark domesticity in sonically-carved, spooky, jumpy takes. Kasischke is the master of a precise lyric shorthand, of underplayed off-rhyme. She blows up moments of breaking emotional revelation and unlikely contact in sharp, indelible images.
Feb 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I loved this collection by Kasischke even more than Space, in Chains. I’m impressed when a poet leaps my wall of resistance to poems I don’t understand. Although she did lose me at times, I still felt something – much like a great singer can sing in a language you don’t know and still make you feel the intention of the song. I can enjoy getting lost in surrealism, dreams, or fantasy, but not battling my way through erudition. These poems are packed with big emotion: fear of the poet’s cancer, gr ...more
Jeffrey (Akiva) Savett
Aug 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was more uneven than Kasischke's wonderful Space, In Chains; but, it was a still a joy to read and there are plenty of jewels throughout.

One of Kasischke's most endearing characteristics as a poet is her worldview---she's constantly amazed by the brilliance of our stupidity and the rock dumb walk of our genius.

We are the infinitesimals; but so are our joys and sorrows, our monuments to our "fascists" and the "cornflakes in our bowls." These lines come from one of my favorite poems in the c
Sep 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
In The Infinitesimals, Laura Kasischke's ingenuity is on full display. If you loved her Space, in Chains, you'll love this collection. The poems in The Infinitesimals are the definition of what I think of as creepy-cool (a category I love). They're haunting. This collection is concerned with mortality and illness.

Kasischke does this neat thing where the titles of the sections are the titles of poems in other sections—and they're very cool titles indeed. Here's a sampling: "Outside Are the Dogs a
Aug 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I started reading this in August and then I moved. Like a genius, I put it in a box with a bunch of other books I was reading/wanted to have immediate access to in the new house. I labeled this box "BOOKS." I labeled every other box containing books "BOOKS." Which is why it wasn't until a couple of weeks ago that I finally unearthed this book in one of the last boxes of books I opened (there were many. I may have a problem). I was very happy to have it back and I tore through it. This book is so ...more
Oct 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I'll be re-reading this one for a long time. So far it feels to me a bit more elusive/uneven than Space, in Chains, but there are such knockout poems in this book--"Barbed Wire," "Boy in Park," "Midnight"--that feel like game-changers. Intense symbolic work, whose strangeness and radical recognition of loss sneaks up on you, I think because of the often disarming diction. A really stirring, important book of poems.
Oct 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed these poems very much. The author’s use of metaphor, image, language, is powerful and challenging and thoughtful. There is so much here that is so rich. Her experience as a parent, as a human being, as a daughter, and as a neighbor - is all touched on here. Over and over again she returns to themes in new and fresh ways which opened my eyes to new ways of seeing. Beautiful work.
Jan 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Kasischke presses hard on emotionally vivid cliches in these poems--often the effect is poignant and surprising, but occasionally it did a bit less for me. Many of the poems, however, are gutting-level feelings inspiration, and her ability to craft astonishing and totally idiosyncratic images remains so good that it makes me sad.
Dan Ray
Sep 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Kasischke's poetry takes a little getting used to, but it's pretty cool once you get into it. Her book tells a story, so the more you read, the more you understand. It's vague at first, but the story becomes clear in a very alluring way.
Jul 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Melissa Seitz
Jan 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Micael Martel
Jan 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book of poems is beautiful in everyway. The imagery is evocative and can speak to anybody. The emotions are so vivid you can feel each poems as if they were your own.
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
I started off loving this book, then I went away from reading it for a little bit and couldn't get into it. I eventually got back into it, all it took was me just sitting down and reading it. Taking the time to slow down and savor it. I am going to admit that this poetry is a little weird and odd, but in the best way. I think Laura's style is really unique. She is able to write such beautiful and lovely poems, her writing is really something special that touches on personal themes. Very refreshi ...more
Tom Romig
Sep 10, 2017 rated it liked it
I'm sure this says more about me than about Laura Kasischke, but I never really became engaged with most of these poems. They frequently made me feel at a loss, made me feel that I never quite grasped the point. As the saying goes, there's no accounting for taste!
Kelly Jones
Feb 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
it took me a while to get into this collection, but once i was about half way in i was in love.
Tori Hook
Oct 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Though it was admittedly difficult for me to understand at some points, I think that was largely the nature of the collection. Fresh and vivid language and form.
Shawn  Aebi
Dec 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Yet another collection needing a decoding book. Some nice phrasing here and a range of subject matter, just not sure what the author is trying to do. Maybe a 2nd reading...
Jacqueline Scott
Mar 31, 2016 rated it liked it
I was torn between giving this a 3 or 4. A handful of poems and lines resonated with me but most did not. And such a subpar ending. It could've been a much punchier, shorter collection. It lacked a more critical editor.

If you're looking to "skip the line" so to speak, my favorites were (in order as they appear):
1) You've Come Back to Me
2) In This Order
3) The Invisible Passenger
4) At the End of the Text, a Small Bestial Form
5) Barbed Wire
6) The Second Trumpet
7) Game
8) The Third Trumpet
9) The Cur
Scott Pomfret
Jul 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
This collection contains domestic poetry that is at once brusque, argumentative, and beautiful. She is a poet of particulars, which are familiar and yet just subtly off true (infinitesimally unexpected) in a way that gives pause and reflection:

A familiar sweater in a garbage can
A surgeon bent over our baby, wearing a mask

Highly recommended.
Sarah Barber
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Laura Kasischke (born 1961) is an American fiction writer and American poet with poetry awards and multiple well reviewed works of fiction. Her work has received the Juniper Prize, the Alice Fay di Castagnola Award from the Poetry Society of America, the Pushcart Prize, the Elmer Holmes Bobst Award for Emerging Writers, and the Beatrice Hawley Award. She is the recipient of two fellowships from th ...more

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