Starred Wire

The Brooklyn-based Mlinko (Matinées) adds more lyricism and more depth to the Frank O’Hara– inspired verve of her much-noticed debut, and the result should raise even bigger waves. Verbal tumbles and linguistic curlicues play sometimes for ontological rewards, at other times just for fun (“Surely the Shambles Will Not Desert the Bank,” one title notes). Though the first few poems evoke arduous journeys, Mlinko spends more time delighting in variegated urban space: in “Secret Chelsea,” “The youth risk their evening, the early part of it at least,/ in circulating among installations.” Other, European, explorations offer “a comprehensive view of the environs” via a “shy girl’s cunning.” Classical Greek sites, pastorals in pastures, a roundabout where “Everything’s Carousing” (so that “Even the Baroque gets lost in it”), “spun sugar gardens” where “global language” might freeze, and a “mythical orgone box” now lost “in the woods” become just some of the imaginative, or imaginary, locales where Mlinko’s imagination finds or makes itself at home. Mlinko has links with the East Coast avant-garde, and her work can struggle fitfully toward prose sense: her poetry’s sky-high quotient of pure pleasure, however, means that even readers used to smoother fare ought to delight in her manifold ways. (Sept.)

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Selected by

Bob Holman