by Catherine Bowman
paper, 98 pages, $14.95
Notarikon includes Catherine Bowman’s signature narrative-meditative poems—bountiful and confrontational, funny, heartbreaking, and wise—as well as a formally inventive one-thousand-line poem written in one hundred ten-line stanzas, each line made up of ten syllables. The poem is both map and meditation on forgetting and remembering. Numeric and alphabetic systems, tens and 10s, punctuate this homage to a ten-year marriage, a decade, music, food, and New York City. In “1000 Lines” the stanzas, even the tiniest syllables, become wonder cabinets filled with mementoes and fragments as the speaker, a self-described pseudo-numerologist, obsessively attempts to retrieve an irretrievable past and to reveal and access the world through the powers of ten.
“The speakers in Notarikon seem to know that only an approximation of the truth can make them whole again, that even in the negative there is nobility. Catherine Bowman writes a poetry that troubles the waters and heals simultaneously. Lyricism and crafted insinuation prompt us to accept her poetic forthrightness: there’s a bravery here that incorporates everything we humans do, know, and risk dreaming.”