The moody poems in Madame X, William Logan's tenth collection, find their subjects in the byways of the past two centuries. Henry James visits his birthplace, the most beautiful woman in Europe ends up in a barrel at a fun fair, and a minor writer succumbs to tuberculosis at a German spa. In the title poem, the portrait of Madame X offers our century a lesson in seduction; but such public shows are balanced by poems of private desire, of the whispers of age, of the present always vanishing before us. These densely figured poems, rich in language and appointment, argue for a knowledge not sustained by the everyday. This is a triumphant collection of shimmering intensities and hard truths.
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September 24, 2012
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