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Review: Things are Disappearing Here

PUBLISHED: June 26, 2007

Things are Disappearing Here
by Kate Northrop
Persea Books, April 2007
$14.00 paper


As Emily Dickinson famously wrote, “One need not be a Chamber—to be Haunted,” and an eidolic motion as numinous as the action of the mind itself floats through every stunning poem in Kate Northrop’s second collection of poems. A baby abandoned in a field, a dream dog (“his name tags glitter / though nothing is written on them”), a figure in a museum diorama, a teenage couple killed in a car accident, a “you” who is as much the reader herself as any lost lover: no vexed or fictive entity is beyond Northrop’s unique, reconstructive, lyrical intelligence. The “here” of the book’s title is a palimpsestic theater of poetic consciousness peopled by a cast of dramatis personae, each at several removes from any definitive sense of self. What is the unnamed and elusive “missing thing” all of these characters trail, stalk, and circle? In “Ghost Crab,” Northrop writes,

It hovers between two worlds, like prayer,
or longing,

between the darkness of land
and the darkness of water. It is other

then either. It is something else

Pitched between the mind’s “cool remove of moonlight” and the body’s “lurid plurals,” these poems enact the ineffable with a spectral exactness (“There they go—the pure beauties—/ tra la la,” Northrop marvels in “The Pure Beauties,” “. . . they who never even knew of us / standing here in love / with the boats, our hearts, and losing them”), evoking Dickinson’s admonition that “The Brain has Corridors—surpassing / Material Place—” with illuminating credence.


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