A witty and elegiac new collection from the author of "exhilarating, fierce [and] powerful” verse (Robert Pinsky, Washington Post).
The speakers of Oracle occupy the outer-borough cityscape of New York's Staten Island, where they move through worlds glittering with refuse and peopled by ghosts—of a dead lover, of a friend lost to suicide, of a dog with glistening eyes. Marvin's haunting, passionate poems explore themes of loss, of the vulnerability of womanhood in a world hostile to it, and of the fraught, strangely compelling landscape of adolescence.
Marvin (Fragment of the Head of a Queen) has produced a collection her third of spectral, charged poems: a wild, ferocious bunch capable of emotional darkness, bound by a strong poetic I. As Marvin writes, "If the town had one huge umbrella, we might all join/ to carry it above us together. But there is no together." This realization provides the freedom to explore different angles on tragedy, loss, and vulnerability, with Marvin weaving vivid, uncanny lines amid narrative, confessional poems that attempt to shed light on various forms of violence (physical, sexual, emotional) against women. The goal is virtuous, even if some of the poems fall flat in the process. Still, it's a successful call to arms, an urgent plea to express the self in the midst of constant hurt and tragedy. Poetry, with its crucially intangible value, is the weapon of choice. "What am I coming to poetry for?" she asks herself. "Make something no one can use that/ no one wants. Don't ask why. It builds character." This character building, perhaps, is the best possible response to a violent and challenging universe. And of course, she pulls no punches: "We need more cold sores, need more of what you/ won't give us; give us some true ugliness."