PRAISE FOR PUNISH HONEY
"In her debut volume, Punish honey, Karen Leona Anderson invents a linguistic world, the ultimate aspiration of poetry. Her poems, in Dickinson's words, are composed of "Slow Gold-- but Everlasting--," a language under duress, torqued to yield a cosmos of nuance and surprise. Their syntax is deliciously resistant, slowed by a recursive energy to the lascivious pace of poetry. Like Dickinson's, Anderson's riddling verses "dwell in Possibility" as they consider the seductions of ambition, including nature's ambitions, the evolving weave of what-is. Subtle and sensual, they sing the "being trampled and torn," the body "for all the world / like something to step out of...." A profound engagement with environmental science, biology, and botany permeates the book, and this rare intelligence extends to the dear substantiality of things. A sequence named for tulips --Gay Presto, Parade, Red Georgette, Yellow Triumph--exceeds its ostensible subjects to fibrillate between sardonic and gnostic tones. In other poems, Anderson, like Marianne Moore, contemplates animals with a scrutiny that transcends the clinical: her deeply attentive gaze becomes a form of tenderness; her brooding or acerbic meditations are gentled by wit and accountability. Punish Honey is an unstinting, in fact sumptuous, linguistic feast. Few first books make such a heady contribution to poetics."
"In Punish honey an intense felicity to sound leads through musical abandonment again and again to startling location and revelation. Fleet, sassy and ferocious, metaphors may turn back and bite you as well as provide metaphysical, meditative clarities. What dire playfulness, what sexy sting, what headlong disarrays and arrivals! Reader, here is the real hive."
"Behold hope as an insect bitch, golden bones / for legs," Anderson writes in one of the poems of Punish honey. Behold, further, language itself turned more malleable and yet used more demandingly than in any other book of poems I know. To say this is a worthy descendent of Maeterlinck is not going too far. Margaret Cavendish, too, lives on in this work, this gorgeous display of mind and matter in language. Brilliance is an apt term for what happens here, for the book's method as well as its surface.
"[Anderson's] poems are also always and furiously about labor, about economy, and the incredible word-hoard of her forthcoming book, Punish honey, revolves around a masterful investigation of a double resonance in the word "bee" with two ee's: not just the creatures, but also the "bee" of the quilting bee, "bee" derived from a dialect English for boon, for unpaid help in manual labor- the bee of quilting bees, yes, but also a whole variety of group activity, including, as Anderson knows all too well, some pretty ugly things. This not to say the poems aren't beautiful: indeed their beauty shines out critically on page after page. Though they are written in the scene of the sump, where deadly liquids pool, the poems also encompass a whole landscape, a whole world, of folksong and folk medicine, of gorgeously crumpled fabric and bright defiant wit. Ihope you will get a taste of some of the many things a queen bee can do in these poems. And I hope you will hear the quicksilver melodies in her newest work, which breaks out from the root cellar and into the oil and the service economies. But watch out: the beauty isn't free. As Maeterlinck put it, studying the bees, "woe to whoso touches the poor hives!"
BUY PUNISH HONEY
Buy at Carolina Wren Press
(faster, cheaper, easier)
Buy at Amazon.com