Kateri Lanthier’s work has been among my favorite recent “discoveries”. For one thing, it is encouraging to know I’m not alone in having “gone underground” and hibernating, hopefully to “re-emerge” in time. The surfaces of her work reveal a long period of preparation that has gone unnoticed by us, outside observers. Indeed, it is rare for me to find so many points of commonality that are everywhere apparent.
Having bemoaned the absence of musicality in contemporary poetry, if Lanthier is any indication, we have come round full circle back to lyricism and song again. First and foremost Lanthier for me is a poet of vowels. “…Crockery smashed/ by scullery maids/ and washed, washed,/ washed to the bone.” And a little later: “Our stroller did the boardwalk wobble./ Dazed on the sand,/ daylight stargazers felt the slow burn.” (From “Beached” in her first collection Reporting from Night; Iguana Books, 2011).
Yes, I know the consonances (the modulation of their alliteration) is handled deftly as well, but it is the pleasure of the babbling brook of low vowels, their alternating pitches filling differently the mouth, that is the mark of a master craftswoman. Granted, I’m merely offering a snatch of one of the first poems in the book; he didn’t bother reading the rest, you will say. But you are mistaken: I did, and could offer a similarly impressive performance from practically each of Kateri’s poems, wishing to return to read them again and again.
There is so much sonic energy here, and the other tools Pound spoke of, phanopoeia and logopoeia, image and wit. Moreover, what I admire in her work, desiring so much to fulfill it in my own, is a quirky playfulness that is yet not divorced of sense. She is one of a growing handful of the younger generation of poets now coming into their own. I truly look forward to seeing what Kateri does next.
To learn more about Kateri, please visit Iguana Books website. Her second collection is coming out with Signal Editions Poetry (Véhicule Press) in spring 2017.
Kateri is one of the readers from The Best Canadian Poetry in English in New York City on Wednesday, June 24 at the KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street.
Alex Cigale’s poems have appeared in Colorado, Green Mountains, North American, Tampa, and The Literary Reviews, and online in Asymptote, Drunken Boat and McSweeney’s. His translations from the Russian can be found in Cimarron Review, Literary Imagination, Modern Poetry in Translation, New England Review, PEN America, TriQuarterly, Two Lines, and World Literature Today. He is on the editorial boards of Mad Hatters’ Review, Plume, St. Petersburg Review, Third Wednesday and Verse Junkies. From 2011 until 2013, he was an Assistant Professor at the American University of Central Asia in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. He is a 2014-2015 NEA Translation Fellow for his work on Mikhail Eremin and the editor of the Spring 2015 Russia Issue of the Atlanta Review. You can find links to his work at the Academia.edu website.