June 17, 2010: Mazer reviewed by Christopher Bock in Jacket
An exceptional review of Ben Mazer's POEMS has appeared in John Tranter's Jacket, one of the most widely-cited online literary magazines. Christopher Bock writes,
At the heart of Mazer's book is a selection of sonnets that echo the muscularity and obsessiveness of Robert Lowell's Notebook . "Blackbirds" is roughly governed by the iambic pentametrical line, yet catches itself in stutters and stumbles:
the oldest infancy surrounds the tower
and the homecoming ocean at that hour
flies with the blackbirds, languishing to pay
the majestic masticating jaws
of memory, all that the war allows.
The syntax of these poems seems wound tight, at times too tight, which leads to a kinetic énouement that allows the personal and the specific to permeate the poems. The poems are intensely felt. The poet strives for authenticity and organic meanings rather than an art that is made, heightened from life, and removed from experience. Controlling sonorities and silences, for Mazer, the stuff of poetry then, becomes the stuff of memory.