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Lenore Balliro:

Alms House Press
PO Box 217
Pearl River NY, 10965

24 pp., $5.00

This collection won the '92 Alms House Press Chapbook contest. The poems paint pictures and comment with a kind of editorial description: "In Shanghai/ morning is not itself." What's implicit is that the speaker is not herself as she wakes in a foreign place. Lots of the poem's statements are loaded like that. The word choice ethic might be described as one of "graceful surprise." Not shocking or jarring, but new and therefore evocative.

Many of these poems are set in China and draw their momentum from successions of images peculiar to the place. The first and title poem shares this characteristic but differs from the rest in that it is also propelled forward by repetition and variation of words or phrases in previous lines. It's not a ranting, slam poem; the redefinition or re-examination through repetition is more reminiscent of Wallace Stevens in "Metaphors of a Magnifico" ("Twenty men crossing a bridge into a village/ are twenty men crossing twenty bridges into twenty villages..."). Balliro begins, "Riding bicycles in the rain, the rain, at night,/ the rain in Hangzhou,/ Hundreds of bikes..."--Mike Basinski

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This review originally appeared in TapRoot Reviews #4,
Copyright Burning Press 1994, 1995.

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