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Gardening in the Dark
Laura Kasischke
$14.00 paperback
978-1-931337-22-9
Out of stock
Gardening in the Dark
Laura Kasischke

In Gardening in the Dark, her sixth book of poetry, Laura Kasischke continues to explore the transformative power of imagination. These poems move fast, taking unexpected turns on their way to the flip side of human consciousness, where metaphor transforms the world. Tinged with surrealism, her work makes visionary leaps from the everyday to brilliant, surprising epiphanies. "This book contains, among many other wonderful things, the greatest poem ever written about spring break… Kasischke's verses walk that perfect Plathian line between the everyday—making macaroni and cheese, getting pulled over for speeding—and the eternal, the plainspoken and the lyrical, the comfortable and the abyss of loss that lies just beneath it… "—Time Magazine

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For Gardening in the Dark, Laura Kasischke

"Laura Kasischke's poems probe the lives of supposedly ordinary women, along with the extraordinary emotional tumult those lives may conceal. In Gardening in the Dark, this Michigan-based poet's territory encompasses high school parking lots, 'the bottom of the fountain at the center of the mall,' and a kitchen with macaroni and cheese in the oven, 'shifting / shape and sweetening / in the heat.' Such spaces promise refuge, but deliver danger: 'Even / in spring, the closet's a blind hive. A black dress / hangs at its center… Never forget, / it sings.' Her stressed-out mothers and reckless adolescents risk melodrama for the sake of vivid drama. Their wild hearts find appropriately wild similes: 'spring, as if a bride / had been bewitched into windchimes.' 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 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. As in the later Sylvia Plath, the central drama in many of these poems is the confrontation between the domestic and a constantly encroaching otherness. Metaphor equally propels and controls this confrontation, pushing the familiar into the realm of the uncanny in the realm of the known. But unlike Plath, who was unable to maintain the boundaries between herself and the ferocious energies that assailed her, Kasischke uses metaphor to bring self and other into relationship while preserving the difference and distance between them… 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

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