Join the conversation
Subscribe to Our Emails
Boston Review is a public space for the discussion of ideas and culture. Sign up for our newsletters and don’t miss a thing.
Joanna Klink’s third collection, Raptus, masterfully navigates the treacherous zone between the lyric and the all-too poetical.
Joanna Klink, Raptus, Penguin Poets, $18.00 (paper)
Transcendence has taken a hard hit over the last half-century or so, leaving few poets willing to brave the topic. Joanna Klink’s third collection, however, masterfully navigates the treacherous zone between the lyric and the all-too poetical. Raptus is packed with big abstractions—radiance, blessings, ardor, wonder, even “wish-clouds”—and should slip away on its own loftiness, but what anchors the book is implied by the double character of its title: “raptus” can mean both “rapture” and “rape.” Klink’s poems dance between these two poles: here “birds [are] motionless and quiet, / rubies in the trees,” elsewhere a window opens to a “mute, green world, / weedy and driftless, / a wind drilling rain, dirt.” The collection is most successful in its long poems, which tackle acutely difficult subjects: “Sorting” attempts (impossibly) to “sort each sorrow from each joy.” Ultimately, what proves challenging about Raptus is also what recommends it: Klink’s noble effort to embody rapture engenders moments of vagueness, including the uneasy sense that a poem can’t quite identify its subject matter. But these are more than compensated for by Klink’s otherwise precise rendering of her universe: “Sheep wool caught on barbed wire,” and “hairclips and sweaters, shoelaces and charms.” To articulate the ineffable is a bold project, especially given the bittersweet unlikelihood of its success. Happily Klink has the talent, determination, and wisdom to take it on and weather it: “Pleasure and failure,” she writes, “feed each other daily.”
...we need your help. Confronting the many challenges of COVID-19—from the medical to the economic, the social to the political—demands all the moral and deliberative clarity we can muster. In Thinking in a Pandemic, we’ve organized the latest arguments from doctors and epidemiologists, philosophers and economists, legal scholars and historians, activists and citizens, as they think not just through this moment but beyond it. While much remains uncertain, Boston Review’s responsibility to public reason is sure. That’s why you’ll never see a paywall or ads. It also means that we rely on you, our readers, for support. If you like what you read here, pledge your contribution to keep it free for everyone by making a tax-deductible donation.
Vital reading on politics, literature, and more in your inbox
Readers Also Liked
Printing Note: For best printing results try turning on any options your web browser's print dialog makes available for printing backgrounds and background graphics.