A Taxi to the Flame
James Dickey Contemporary Poetry S.
A Taxi to the Flame is a journey through the streets of New York City, foreign landscapes, and past and present events. From rattling Manhattan subways where underground riders transform on Halloween night, to suburban mornings in which a hedge clipper neatens a waking vision of the world, the poems are a love story of destinations met, people remembered, and places found at the intersections of words and dreams.This first collection of Vickie Karp's poems contains a decade of work that has appeared in magazines and journals such as the New Yorker, New Republic, New York Review of Books, Yale Review, and New York Times.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
A debut volume by a former editor at The New Yorker, where many of these poems first appeared, flirts with chaos ("To understand chaos, be chaos") but never submits - instead, this writer for public television remains poised and somewhat stately throughout her stylish book. Karp's lyrics proceed through the logic of metaphor; she heaps simile upon simile until we end up far from the original image or idea. But her tropes do not always support the weight of her one-line insights: cleaning a parakeet cage in "Harm," she avers, "There is such harm in love"; "Insurance" builds to the glib notion that "Love is in the rewrites"; and in "Tied to the Earth," the equanimity of spiders and dogs "makes us forget / To question who we are." Often speaking of angels and dreams, Karp at her worst seems precious: her cityscape, recognizable as New York, avoids the grit and clamor for channing street scenes ("The Consequence of Waking") and abstractions. The poet's strength, though, is in her fresh vision: dust becomes "the minerals of hell itching under the kitchen floor"; stars ascend "to the all-night cafe at the comer of eon and ion"; and, driving in a car, the mountains "rise and turn, / Like the past raising / Its broad back." In "Winter and Its Steps," she plays the piano for an audience of family pictures, and in "Dark Blue Ribbons under the Streets of the City, "she transforms the city and finds renewal in its future possibilities. Karp staves off despair and "dread conscious" by keeping close to the surface of things, lest her visions spiral out of control; history threatens in several compelling poems (about her grandparents, about war) but she retreats into myth. Karp occasionally loses herself in a muddle of abstraction and a thicket of tropes, but this is a promising debut nonetheless. (Kirkus Reviews)