Karin Lessing - In the Aviary of Voices


Karin Lessing - In the Aviary of Voices

Paperback, 62pp, A5

A major collection that sums up Karin Lessing's work in the last decade of the 20th century. Born in Silesia, Karin Lessing grew up in the USA but has been living in Provence since the early 1960s. The majority of her work hitherto has been published in the USA.

"She lives in the hills, where things matter, making articulation precise. She writes little, so that each of her words takes on the charm of a hypnotist's watch, swinging in the silence. These are luminous objects compelling strange reveries — a species of the poem that is nearly extinct." (Eliot Weinberger)

"…here, as if averting their captivity upon the very surface of the page, the words tend to soar, flutter, describe their immaculate ellipses which are nothing less than those of the spirit released." (Gustaf Sobin)

"Karin Lessing's book, In the Aviary of Voices, is the work of a poet who secretes lines slowly, carefully, with no sense of hurry. And she does her composing in a small, minimally equipped cabin up on a hill above her orchard and little farm in the heart of Provence. She took me there one day and let me absorb the silence of the clean, simple space she created with a low desk, a few books, a mat for sitting, the gold sunlight pouring through the windows from the nearby woods. These elements circulate in her poems, after years of discipline in refining her language." (Paul Christensen, Texas Observer)

For Lessing, "language" is an abstraction, at once non-existent and yet resonant with meaning. Thus, Lessing treats the concept of voice ironically. She points, it appears, toward the transience of one's voice, questioning its very existence, so that "…have you not seen/love/change/and light/un-/crested" opens into "the red sun/cast/a blood red reflection" and then shatters, fragments into glimmering "shadows of things/broken, their/unclaimed mosaics".

"Lessing would distract us from the confines of reason and, in its place, make us aware of the plurality of voices. A language that is shaped contrary to expectations undermines those expectations. "To", for instance, is the title of the first poem in In the Aviary of Voices. Normally, one would expect this tiny yet important word to be used strictly as a preposition, but here it establishes a movement in language from which the voice takes flight. It is like a springboard — "To" is not just a word; it is the beginning of voice, a movement in sound!" (Onder Ötcu, First Intensity)


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