Climate Plus
(Coincidence Press: Second Season, 1986)

More spare and, in some senses, more "lyrical" than her earlier work From Solids (Segue, 1983), this work calls attention to its constructedness, its formal regularity. Written entirely in quatrains (with one important exception), Climate/Plus consists of the two title poems, "Climate," composed of seventy-seven stanzas, and "Plus," composed of seven stanzas. The book's structure, then, belies an interest in symmetry, in formal--if arbitrary--boundaries giving the illusion of unity. At the same time, however, Child breaks that frame, marring the formal symmetry with one stanza of only 2 lines fairly near the beginning of "Climate:"

To keep track with the object we are up to
Error.

It seems important that there be this "error" in the formal structure; like the sprocket holes, it reminds us of the making of the object, the aim and its slippage. In the same way, "Plus" serves formally as a coda to the book, yet it resists providing that formal closure:
A figure strong incomplete
And unfinished

"A good thought is a series of resonances," she says in a piece co-authored with Sally Silvers ("Rewire // Speak in Disagreement," Poetics Journal 4 , p. 71). Where a narrative structure urges toward causality, coherence, and completion, Child's work seems to challenge these concepts, to expose the arbitrary, the contradictory, the incomplete. Climate/Plus is a series of resonances, partial soundings of "The world people modify."

--Lori Chamberlain

Lori Chamberlain writes about topics in feminism and postmodern writing. Her article "Gender and the Metaphorics of Translation," appears in the spring issue of Signs.

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