In these brief poems the author reveals insight, emotional accuracy, and moral discernment as she surveys human relations
Carol Muske has been called one of the best poets of her generation. The Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Carolyn Kizer, commented that her technical dazzle and virtuosity are "one of a kind: Mozartian." The poems in her new collection, Red Trousseau, use Los Angeles as a symbol for the seduction of appearances; in the title poem, reality crosses from the Wallace Stevens notion of the sun "hovering in its guise of impatient tribunal" to a director's reshooting of a tarnished sunset, so that "the scene, infinite, rebegins." In Carol Muske's work, red, blue, and yellow dominate, serving to link such disparate things as a soundstage's fake prie dieu, a precinct station map of gang activity, and a schoolgirl's model of the planets, all of which take on the red of Salem burnings, the self-immolation of a political dissident in Prague, and Eros itself, moving like a red shadow over the body of love. Fate in Red Trousseau is drawn by a biochemist as a chemical, recodable spiral inside us, looping back and forth like a mobius of DNA or a movie reel; like a director or a lover, a rebeginning. Muske's Hollywood, also deriving much of its spiraling energy from another modernist, Marianne Moore, circles around its version of reality, infinitely rebeginning, until it becomes wholly the form. Life is made into an object - beautiful, but no longer life. Until, of course, the writer begins a new story, spiraling around a new apprehension of the world that is dangerous, political, and most of all, erotic.Stylistically brilliant and emotionally resonant, the poems in Red Trousseau display the work of a master poet at the peak of her craft.