Saturday 28 October 2017

My Private Property by Mary Ruefle    {Reviewed by THOMAS}
What is a reader to do when confronted with a set of short, various prose pieces written by a poet who has reached the other side of cleverness and who approaches the inarticulateness beyond from the bank of her accomplishments rather than from that of incapacity? To the problems attendant upon the *facts* of her existence Ruefle applies questions that are inextinguishable by answers. Many of the pieces in My Private Propertyread almost as encyclopedia entries to the ordinary, cataloguing its wonders for some alien to whom the quotidian and the unusual have equal strangeness. This cleansing of the faculties of the grime of familiarity is the essence of the poetic mode. The subjective is left immediate/unmediated, revealing and affirming the value of individual experience and demonstrating the particular, however ordinary, as the haunt of meaning, the profundity of which is not limited by the fact that it does not extend beyond the confines of its domain. There is little of value to be had from a generalisation. In this set of exemplars in a science of the particular, the said subjectivity, isolated as a distillate, is poured by Ruefle into successive containers other than herself, with no loss of efficacy, and it is this transmigration of viewpoint that gives the pieces of My Private Property an exhilaration, a poignancy and a liberty that demonstrate poetry’s essentially astringent quality upon the impediments of identity that cloud our sympathies and shorten our perceptions. 

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