The Acquiescent Villa
64 Pages / 5.50 x 8.00 x 0.20 in
- Hardcover /
- 9780807123041 /
- Published: November 1998
In The Acquiescent Villa, Paula Closson Buck writes the way Picasso paints—with slanted angles of approach and departure that give us the human heart passionately at work. A restless explorer of the world as body, the body as world, she is acutely aware of the ways in which language creates and sustains these spheres, bringing them sometimes into collision, sometimes into balance. Her poems are journeys into marriage and memory via ship or the body’s furious train—to Spain, to Germany, to the Turkish baths, to the corner store for bread.
In making such journeys, Buck yokes the intimate and the social so deftly that one hardly realizes what she has done. So while the speaker of “The Turkish Baths” thinks of becoming “again personal, like anyone afraid a dream will come to nothing,” the connection to history and to place that she longs for is already there, in the making and the language. In images as sumptuous as they are surprising, in voyages navigated by sensual touch and oblique eye, the poet gives us the far world brought near.
Buck’s methods of articulation vary: at times, a glancing blow; at times, an image so precisely rendered we penetrate layers of the psyche swiftly. Her intentions are perhaps most explicit in the seven-part sequence “Discourse on Monogamy and Flight,” a lyrical conversation between domestic love and a lingering discontent that leads the speaker out and away, to uncharted territories. The sequence resolves in lines beginning, “Here is the liturgy of a barbarous calm,” lines that compose a moment in which the speaker comes to rest in a particular place—a “here”—yet feels alive to the world in a way that is sacramentally powerful.
With elegant diction, an acute sense of the line, an honest and compelling struggle to know, to feel, to balance conflicting desires, this premiere collection offers compelling and mature work.