Poet's Choice

By Robert Pinsky
Sunday, November 5, 2006

Lynda Hull in her short life (1954-1994) wrote memorable poems, distinctive for their flamboyant shadows, a created world where pathos always has some swagger of the doomed: a quality that you might call (depending on your decade) Goth, punk, noir or maudit. In an afterword to a new Collected Poems by Hull, David Wojahn speaks of a "combination of elegance and danger, of lyric acuity and peril." In his introduction, Yusef Komunyakaa makes the comparison to "a desperate screech through a jazz musician's trumpet or sax." In a review quoted on the new book, Robert Polito says Hull's work suggests "a fantasy coupling of Elizabeth Bishop and Lou Reed."

Hull understood the way our idea of glamour can be informed by the music and manners of our parents' generation. The sounds, sights and paraphernalia of adult life exert an endless allure, the charm of sexuality before it can be quite apprehended:


for my mother

On the radio, gypsy jazz. Django Reinhardt

puts a slow fire to Ellington's Solitude

while ice cubes pop in your martini. The sting

of lime on my palm. By the sink you lean,

twisting your rings. Turn to the window.

In shadow you could be sixteen

again, in your mother's kitchen

above Cleveland, the cafes of Warsaw still

smoky in your mind with talk and cigarettes,

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