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Rosmarie Waldrop:

Tender Buttons
54 East Manning St. #3
Providence RI, 02906

81 pp., $7.00

These poems are intimately voiced investigations of the terrain where philosophy and poetry meet. I detest paraphrase. Here is a collage of quotes arranged to suggest some of the book's argumentative threads:

"... the four points of the compass are equal on the lawn of the excluded middle where full maturity of meaning takes time the way you eat a fish, morsel by morsel, off the bone. Something that can be held in the mouth, deeply like darkness by someone blind or the empty space I place at the center of each poem to allow penetration." (pg. 11)

"It is one thing to insert yourself into a mirror, but quite another to get your image out again and have your errors pass for objectivity." (g. 13)

"Then I realized that the world was the part of my body I could change by thinking and projected the ratio of association to sensory cortex onto the surface of the the globe, inside out as you might turn a glove." (pg. 77)

"Every thought swelled to the softness of flesh after a long bath, the lack of definition essential for happiness, just as not knowing yourself guarantees a life of long lukewarm days stretching beyond the shadow of pure reason on the sidewalk." (pg. 47)

"There remains an ultimate gap, as between two people, that not even a penis can bridge, a point at which we lose sight of the erections crossing a horizon in the mind. This is accompanied by a slight giddiness as when we jump over our shadow..." (pg. 66)

LAWN OF EXCLUDED MIDDLE deserves a volume of responses and I believe at some point it will receive them. It ranks with a handful of other books (Michael Palmer's SUN, Lyn Hejinian's THE CELL, Bruce Andrew's I DON'T HAVE ANY PAPER SO SHUT UP, Rachel Blau DuPlessis' DRAFTS) as among the most important writing of these last few years. This is one of the books to take to that fabled desert island. Especially if you enjoy the sensual vagaries of thought.--Tom Beckett

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This review originally appeared in TapRoot Reviews #3,
Copyright Burning Press 1993, 1995.

Contact the editor, luigi-bob drake, at Burning Press