Song & Error
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $23, 112 pp.
In “Northwest Passage,” a poem that exemplifies the aesthetic of Averill Curdy’s debut collection Song and Error, the narrator stands on a deck under the morning’s “first pale peach jeopardy / of light.” The poem is not Yeatsian in imagery or import, but it does dramatize Yeats’s belief that verse rhythms “prolong the moment of contemplation, the moment when we are both asleep and awake, which is the one moment of creation.” Curdy’s language is soft: light flushes and touches; gardens seethe. Curdy imagines the explorer Martin Frobisher returning to England, three times, with only “fool’s gold.” Frobisher’s ambitious folly is contrasted with the narrator’s comparatively mundane “new world,” of “linden’s melon scent twined / around an untuned engine’s blue carbon / Monoxide.” In this poem Curdy speaks as herself about a world beyond her own before returning to the familiar. Just as often, though, Curdy assumes a persona, describing an imagined world from an imagined point of view.
A former arts administrator, marketing manager, and technical writer, Curdy began writing poetry consistently in the mid-1990s. The art form was a salve, the “secret life inside [her] life.” She earned an MFA from the University of Houston, and regular publication followed in Poetry, the...