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Poet's Choice

By Robert Pinsky
Sunday, April 17, 2005; Page BW12

Eccentric, uneven, brilliant, authentic, the remarkable poet Bill Knott is not the type to win prizes, become the pet of academic critics or cultivate acolytes. But this thorny genius has added to the art of poetry.

As if tired of the flat, all-purpose formal sameness of the lines and structures in so many new books of poetry -- including would-be experimental ones -- Knott includes a number of sonnets in his latest book, The Unsubscriber. Sonnets may be a surprise from a rebellious, avant-garde figure. But he handles the form in a manner as inventive as his quirky, penetrating language ("Severs and brothers," "I am alone but so are we").

Here are two poems by Bill Knott, the second one an elegy for the Argentinean poet Alfonsina Storni (1892-1938):

Echo Near the End

Severs and brothers, brokens and sisters, is this it?

Around me life has darkened like the afternoon.

Anymore to emulate the sunlight's posture,

I slither down off that perfect backbone.

I am alone, but so are we. We are alone but so.

Banking slowly the monster completes its turn --

A clingathon of wings flaps through a halo

That holds a weddingring up to a keyhole to

Pen in the one my fear was assisting at

The birth of adrenaline: I pause I postulate.

Wait. A mousehole Morpheus stamps our passport;


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