The title of this richly textured book derives from two of the three mysterious letters left by Emily Dickinson--the ones addressed to "Dear Master." Lucie Brock-Boido has imagined a series of letters echoing devices found in Dickinson's own work. "We feel we are in the presence of something entirely new, " says Bonnie Costello in The Boston Review. "Not even Brock-Broido's wonderful first book, A Hunger, prepares us for this bold encounter."
Three mysterious letters (two beginning ``Dear Master'') written by Emily Dickinson and discovered after her death are the starting point for Brock-Broido's (A Hunger) second collection. The 52 works in this extended tribute echo many of Dickinson's stylistic and formal devices and often exhibit a similar stance toward their subjects. The poems are celebrations of language, often contorting words and syntax into surprising new shapes, at their best (e.g., ``The Supernatural Is Only The Natural, Disclosed'') playing in the mind like music, with a meaning and beauty that outreach literal comprehension: ``I'm listening/ to the fluorescent light come on/ In April, flinging a hot white scarf/ Across a month mottled by the chemicals/ Of eastern standard time.'' At their weakest, the works are self-consciously literary, overstuffed with allusion and reference. But Brock-Broido is clearly a kindred spirit to the Belle of Amherst, an audacious writer possessed of a grave intensity, as in the prose piece ``Haute Couture Vulgarity'': ``I have too much of the martyr, would set myself ablaze--just for the bright light of the fire, a curiosity, for a cause if I had one, a Flame.'' This is a brave collection; challenging, sometimes difficult, ambitious and relentless in its experimentation with language and form.