by Rosa Lane
In the tradition of writers like Lucie Brock-Broido and Janet Holmes, Rosa Lane allows the mysteries of Emily Dickinson’s life to blossom into an incisive exploration of feminist poetics, innovation, and the gendered, temporally bound nature of artistic audience. “Pull my chair / into dinner’s envelope,” Lane writes in lines as lyrical as they are mysterious. The title of her stunning volume, memorializing the last two words that Dickinson wrote, which are engraved on her headstone, evokes a rich tradition of poetic voice as an alterity that speaks through the writer. For Homer, it was the muses, for the great Modernist H.D., it was the unconscious mind, and for Jack Spicer, it was radio waves from outer space. Here, Lane shows us that otherness that speaks through the poet as inheritance, as history. Yet this history is imbued with new agency and a fresh sociopolitical urgency as Lane considers questions about sexuality and silence in Dickinson’s artistic legacy: “Vortex of heart, or / lone star fixed — barred coupling. I / dissent, burn a scream / my sapphic love of her—doomed, / disobedient. Damned shut!” This is a necessary and beautifully rendered book.
Published: September 2024
Available on backorder
“Rosa Lane’s Called Back breaks through the membrane that separates us from Dickinson’s time. Here, we enter Dickinson’s world brand new with the vigor of research re-imagined, obsession expressed with prolific inventiveness and mounting urgency, and language that astonishes in its apt, abundant, and irresistible embrace of sound. This is a book fearless in its approach and lavish in its accomplishment.”
—Rebecca Kaiser Gibson
“What marvelous, feral, eccentric, sweetly erotic poems! Like a candle in a frosted window, they illuminate—with electrifying language—the shadows of human love.”
“Reading Called Back is like floating through water, dipping into Lane’s lyric obsession with Emily Dickinson as though on a raft made of erudite diction, vowel sounds, line breaks, and longing. Or it’s like Lane’s doppelganger-speaker—this less constrained Emily—laid her body out across the ocean and said, now float on me. The main conceit is to imagine, evoke, and ‘call back’ to a new, less-othered Emily Dickinson, a 21st century Emily Dickinson more able to openly ‘swim / up the fish weir…spawn / in sandy silt along the odic / thighs of the Loire [to] flutter / our little deaths.’ This sexy book does not protest. It does not rant or shriek any grievance, though God knows it has a right to. Instead, it gives Emily back the ‘Feral / utterances’ Lane suggests her circumstances and time in history forbade her. This radical homage will delight Dickinson scholars and poets alike. And those who don’t know yet how much poetry can liberate them should read it too.”
“Lane’s poems in tribute to Dickinson are a linguistic and lyrical tour de force, an object lesson in how the music of poetry finds purchase in the gaps between sound and silence. Lane’s charged lines propel us through space and (un)soundings that bridge breathing and not breathing in poems that can render us as breathless as they leave us brimming. Ruah!”
In bold tribute with a title utilizing the last two words Emily Dickinson wrote, Rosa Lane’s Called Back converses with one of our greatest poets in theatrical monologue– decoding secrets amidst the blatant. Evoked by epigraphs selected from Dickinson’s work, Lane’s poems, through her I-speaker, reveal the extraordinary amidst the ordinary and speak to the struggle of sexual orientation, otherness, and the challenges of living in a Calvinistic socioreligious world of oughts and noughts as evidenced in Dickinson’s poems. From sapphic eroticism and subsequent “pangs” of non-belonging to tacking next life as a welcome reprieve, poems in Called Back create a de novo dot-connecting lyrical narrative. Lane’s voice brings a necessary, gender-fluid, feminist perspective to the Dickinson table of debate and the smitten.
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