Cold Comfort: Selected Poems 1970-1996

by Lyn Lifshin. 1997. 278 pages. Black Sparrow Press. 24 Tenth Street, Santa Rosa, California, 95401.

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There is really no denialing the awesome presence of Lyn Lifshin’s poetry in the American lit. landscape. More than any other poet I can haul to mind, Lifshin, alone, has the ability to speak with a genuine American voice to all of us peeps, people and dogs. I’ll write that in the age of the WWW Lifshin will take her place (a blue palace - which is the Eros of words - she is the blue witch of the Eros as words - I am convinced) as rightful master - akin to lofties like Robert Frost and Carl Sandbag. She has the ability to be of our moment and is our monument. Easy, yes, to read a few poems in a magazine - here and there - and in little books, but poets like Lyn Lifshin, because she produces tiny, fast slivers of wood in your heart-mind and sliver like fish poems that escape like water thought your fingers, because of this a big book in hand is so much an important event and can only that way grant a fair reading. What happens is that Cold Comfort plants the mind right in the middle of an imaginative cosmos that is recognizable as the real world and one that is not. In other words, and other words are what poets really work with, in other words Lyn Lifshin has created a realm of American poetry so original as to stand alone and aloft. Get the big book.

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