Domain of Perfect Affection

The sixth full-length [collection] from the still-underrated Becker (The Horse Fair, 2000) uses sustained attention and deceptively quiet language to delve skillfully into Jewish heritage, lesbian culture, generational succession, and the ambivalent legacy of the Sixties. Describing her path from a radical youth to middle age, Becker's verse remains careful and clear, much like Philip Levine's in its sense of how poems ought to work (and Becker is at least as good a technician). Her free verse lines can grow pleasantly prickly, or even grim: "Against Pleasure" warns beachgoers about 'jellyfish for the rest of the summer/ and the ozone layer full of holes.' Celebrations of amity and of erotic love counterpoint such sad reminders: a poem about a grand flood projects 'a waterproof optimism, hoping to run into a few friends/ who'd taken the rain into their own hands and gone pelagic.'
Publishers Weekly

In Domain of Perfect Affection, Robin Becker explores the conditions under which we experience and resist pleasure: in beauty salon, summer camp, beach, backyard, or museum; New York or New Mexico. “The Mosaic injunction against / the graven image” inspires meditations on drawings by D_rer, Evans, Klee, Marin, and del Sarto. To the consolations of art and human intimacy, Becker brings playfulness—“Worry stole the kayaks and soured the milk”—suffused with self-knowledge: “Worry wraps her long legs / around me, promises to be mine forever.” In “The New Egypt,” the narrator mines her family’s legacy: “From my father I learned the dignity / of exile and the fire of acquisition, / not to live in places lightly, but to plant / the self like an orange tree in the desert.” Becker’s shapely stanzas—couplets, tercets, quatrains, pantoum, sonnet, syllabics—subvert her colloquial diction, creating a seamless merging of subject and form. Luminous, sensual, these poems offer sharp pleasures as they argue, elegize, mourn, praise, and sing.

88 Pages, 6 x 8.5 in.

July, 2006

isbn : 9780822959311

about the author

Robin Becker

Robin Becker received the Lambda Award in Poetry for All-American Girl and has held fellowships from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard. Her books include Tiger Heron, Domain of Perfect Affection, The Horse Fair, and GiacomettiÕs Dog. Professor Emeritus of English and WomenÕs Studies at Penn State, Becker serves as poetry and contributing editor for the WomenÕs Review of Books.

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Robin Becker