Gardening in the Dark, Kasischke’s sixth book of poetry, explores the transformative power of imagination. Her poems take us to the flip side of human consciousness, where anything can happen at any time. Tinged with surrealism, her work makes visionary leaps from the quotidian to sudden, surprising epiphanies.
“Laura Kasischke’s poems probe the lives of supposedly ordinary women, along with the extraordinary emotional tumult those lives may conceal… Kasischke’s intelligence is most apparent in her syntactic control and pace, the way she gauges just when to make free verse speed up, or stop short, or slow down.” —New York Times Book Review
“Kasischke’s Gardening in the Dark proves as tortured as it is lovely—the kind of mixture only great poetry can offer.” —Review Revue
“Laura Kasischke’s poetry, like Sylvia Plath’s, often begins in and circles domestic, everyday experience: going to the country fair, trying on a dress, being pulled over by the police for speeding, eating fast food. Yet those experiences constantly point elsewhere, to perils beyond. The movement between quotidian, even drab everydayness and the miraculous, magical, surreal associations brought about by musical imperative and the imagination’s verve is from one form of incineration to another, always providing light because the light of burning cannot be separated from the light of realization… Since Rimbaud, poets have known there was no choice but to become a stranger to the self, but the self in this book never finds a stable site of detachment from which to view the inevitable drift towards the end; it refuses that sort of complacency. ‘The teacher was death. The blackboard was the sky.’ Often the poems read like sequences, arias of dislocations, dis-belongings, literal and figurative mis-fittings, conveying a nearly cheerful richness even as their focus is on dread and decay, on isolation and grief. Stitched through is the dark humor of someone who knows she has a lot to lose, has already had a hell of a time losing half of it and soon enough will lose the rest. And somehow, Laura Kasischke makes it all seem nearly a celebration.” —Dean Young
“One of the fascinations of Gardening in the Dark is the way in which it demonstrates the obverse and reverse sides of metaphor, its ability to simultaneously distance and connect… At its best, the collection succeeds in honing a fiercely personal self-reckoning to a searching intelligence within a heightened and authentic suburban idiom. Kasischke gives us a taste for the unmedicated nerve, for the undiluted darkness, and she shows us how to find them here, in America.” —Pleiades