The Game of Boxes

Book review by Maggie Nichols
Thursday Review Contributing Writer

The Game of Boxes; Catherine Barnett

Catherine Barnett's The Game of Boxes, winner of the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets, is a rich and rewarding read--even for those among our Thursday Review followers who might look askance at contemporary poetry for its frequent bouts of angry introspection, Freudian self-indulgence and neurotic self-flagellation. Barnett, by contrast, treats us to an approachable collection of images and vignettes which--despite the sometimes cloudy, stormy themes--instantly engage us in the need to turn the page to the start of the next poem, many of them presented in lyrical and song-like form. Barnett slices open the heart of every form of human fruit--childhood, scars, love (gained or lost), fear, pain, family fragmentation, desire, dread, old age and mortality. The book is meant to be read as a whole, for all the poems collected within form the phrases and movements of a wonderful musical compostion. This is contemporary poetry as it should be.

(For more, go to Graywolf Press)