What We’re Reading: The Game of Boxes
The second book of poems from Catherine Barnett, The Game of Boxes (officially released next week, on August 7!), is an exercise in taut, contained verse that manages to hold within it copious amounts of raw pleasure and small wonders. The poet’s subjects are familiar ones: sex, family, and love. But she writes about them in a compelling fashion that kept me turning the pages.
Favorite poems: “Mornings,” and “Providence.” The latter is the perfect poem to end the book. Here’s the beginning of it, as a teaser:
This evening I shared a cab with a priest
who said it was a fine day to ride cross town
with a writer. But I can’t
finish the play I said,
it’s full of snow
walked slowly, a cigarette warmed
Some of the best sermons
don’t have ending, he said
while the tires rotated unceasingly
My only critique is that the ending is still a bit too tidy for my taste; I was hoping for a messy, open-ended beautiful moment of everyday life to carry us past that last page. However, the poem ended the collection while launching the reader forward into their daily life with a new, fresh look at the routine pleasures around them.
The book features gorgeous cover art by Ida Mann, which reflects the interior. The creativity is contained within a shape or form, but within that frame, it is loose, boundless, and beautiful.
Barnett’s debut book of poems is Into Perfect Spheres Such Holes Are Pierced. She’s the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Whiting Writers’ Award. She teaches in New York City, where she lives, at The New School and New York University.
Have you come across a poem that could rival Barnett’s “Providence” as the ultimate poem to close a collection? What poets or writers can you think of whose writing is teeming with raw emotion, contained within a tight form?