Untitled Country Review (ISSN 2152-7903), published quarterly during 2010-2013, features poetry, book reviews, photography, and short works of non-fiction. Thank you for visiting.

Issue 5: Featured Poet - Lyn Lifshin

Lyn Lifshin. 2010. ALL THE POETS (MOSTLY) WHO HAVE TOUCHED ME (LIVING AND DEAD. ALL TRUE: ESPECIALLY THE LIES). 277 pages. Huntington Beach, CA; World Parade Books; ISBN # 978-0-9846198-5-6

I think ALL THE POETS WHO HAVE TOUCHED ME is a tremendous book along the lines of John Berryman's Dream Songs. It's the Lifshin persona with equal attention to the speaker and the subjects presented. There's a great intellect at work in the book, showing the author has digested the essence of the poets, both recent and remote, presented as flesh and blood characters, with their eccentricities and normality. It humanizes them using sound biographical knowledge but fictionalizes them, adding luster and depth. The revelations of both speaker and related poets are powerfully original but have the sense of being basically historically sound. It's an intriguing presentation that keeps the reader eager to see what's on the next page. It's scandalous and morally elevating in turn. It keeps coming back with additional observations real and imaginative. The book with its many pages and accumulation of factual and imagined information has the satisfying weight of a masterpiece, and though phrased in a perfectly conversational tone, it occasionally has the music of a hymn, sometimes a dark melody, at other times a radiance. The diction and milieu are in accord with the varied historical eras treated. The book is not just a hearty meal. It is a feast of words with fascinating descriptions and engrossing ideas. The reader will leave this banquet of literary delights fulfilled.
—William Page

Riding Horseback With Sylvia Plath

She was more hands on. I had taken
a few lessons as a child, but she wanted
to plunge in. I told her I didn't want
any injuries. Ballet was my obsession
and even a mild Achilles tendon ache 
or sore knee makes me seethe. She 
was a good dancer, you should have 
seen her in that tight red dress, blonde
hair. Neither of us were as blonde as
we pretended. What isn't an illusion
with poets? Stages of trying to pare
everything down, poems, our legs,

our whole bodies. Not that she was
ever as plump as I was. I painted
horses, as she did, fell in love with
their beauty, wildness. We both fell
for those enormous mahogany eyes,
as we did for many similar lovers:
big untamable, a little scary. We 
could lose ourselves in their 
manes, leave whatever was most 
terrifying or hideous out of sight. 
When I wrote about Ruffian, the 
gorgeous  tragic race horse, Sylvia 

understood how the world went
away, as when she brushed Ariel,
loosed the cake mud from her
flanks and tail. There was no one
to bother her, no nasty notes from men,
no over-worried mother's calls or
letters, intrusions we both knew
too well and couldn’t quite deal
with. No one was telling us
what to do when we were lost
in horses. No advice, threats,
warnings. We both had had it
being told what to do

Early morning, before it's light,
to be one with a horse, especially
if it's your birthday: ecstasy.
Sometimes, it's as though
it's too much to be charming,
and still, give up wildness.
When Sylvia rode Ariel
as dark sky began to lose
its ink, she broke for that
moment, out of everything
holding her, as I did with Ruffian,
cantering, galloping, airborne,

no longer daughter, mother, wife

--Lyn Lifshin (Reprinted with permission of the author)

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