Tuesday 1 January 2008

Divining for Starters (Shearsman, 2011)

Launched in London
on 15 February 2011, 7:30 p.m.,
at Swedenborg Hall

In 1999, living in southern California, Carrie Etter began a series of poems focusing on our cultural obsession with creating beginnings and origins—a new day, a new chapter, a fresh start—called Divining for Starters. Twelve years and a move to England later, here are the best poems from that work in progress. They join poems exploring the environment, the erotic, politics, and selfhood. Employing a poetics of consciousness in an array of forms, Divining for Starters ranges widely with poems at once rigorous and delicate. You can buy it from the splendid Foyle's (UK) or The Book Depository for free delivery anywhere else in the world.

"Carrie Etter catches the drift and pushes it lightly into her courses. Lilting now, her courses swerve between the reaches of the American mid-West and the claggy ruts of England, and their erotics are those of skin and fold, of elegant runs and breaks. Carrie Etter's poems give the feel of pleasure; they take unpredictable turns. When all about would be stipulated, Divining for Starters points heedfully to the possible."

--John Wilkinson

"Carrie Etter’s wonderful new book, Divining for Starters, graphs a crop of new forms, swerving from blanks to bliss. Taking the long view of time, Etter writes poems that can at once be a species of call and response (erotics of language), a particulate trace of how one writes, a 'True Story', a physics of animals eating, or a vigil for stillness. She tunes into some kind of new latinate downhome radio, or maps the milky way, post-pastoral in its graphology.

Memory is here, ('fireweed for acres') as are breathing trees, fields across the world - always with a immediacy - a sense that poems are appearing right before our eyes as we eagerly approach 'the entrancing right margin'."
--Lee Ann Brown


"Carrie Etter's second collection demonstrates a remarkable ear and intelligence. Combining lyricism and experimentation, Divining for Starters is confident, poised, and at times quite startling."

"...these poems are also finely wrought and immensely sensual--the poet 'fingering my small store of words / held on the tongue' ('Divining for Starters (53)'). Even as closure is endlessly deferred, the poems are gathered together by a careful patterning of sound and sense."

"This is of course not simply the hypnotic dream of a train moving through the night, but the drift of language from any fixed reference point. And it is this carefully controlled and haunting slipperiness that makes Carrie Etter's second collection so extraordinary." 

Sarah Jackson, New Walk

"...these lean, fleeting poems operate outside linear time, and outside traditional literary concepts of the start, of progress, and of climax. In this sense, Etter not only subverts our "obsession with beginnings" but gains intimacy with the reader, allowing us to keep pace with her thoughts, and to slip in and out of the atmospheres and sensations she has created."
--Anna Lewis, Magma

"This is a poetry of elegance and grace, of things spoken and unspoken, the known and almost known and the intuited, and it's quite stunning."

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