Trouble In Mind
Published by Alfred A. Knopf
Winner of the Massachusetts Book Award
Jacket Painting: Vittore Carpaccio, Dream of St. Ursula (detail), c. 1495
With Trouble in Mind, her long-awaited third collection, Lucie Brock-Broido has written her most exceptional poems to date. There is a new clarity to her work, a disquieting transparency, even in the midst of the wild thickets of language for which she is known. A poet “at the border of her own allegory,” Brock-Broido searches for a lexicon adequate to the extremities of experience—a quest that is as capricious as it is uncompromising. In the process, she reveals, unsparingly, things as they are. In “Pamphlet on Ravening” she recalls, “I was a hunger artist once, as well. / My bones had shone. / I had had rapture on my side.” The book is laced with sequences: haunted, odd self-portraits; a succession of poems provoked by discarded titles by Wallace Stevens; an intermittent series of fractured and beguiling lyrics that she variously refers to as fragments, leaflets, and apologues.
Trouble in Mind is a book that astonishes afresh at the agility and the uncanny will of language, which Brock-Broido is not afraid to follow where it may lead her: “That the name of bliss is only in the diminishing / (As far as possible) of pain. That I had quit / The quiet velvet cult of it, / Yet trouble came.” Even trouble, in Brock-Broido’s idiom, becomes something resplendent.
Read selected poetry from Trouble In Mind
Praise for Trouble In Mind
"The ferocity and grandeur always present beneath the brocade of Brock-Broido's gorgeous surfaces are more naked now, impatient of disguise. She writes, "The hours between washing and the well / Of burial are the soul's most troubled time.' She has become the barbaric and exquisite Sibyl of that time in her masterly Trouble In Mind."
"'Split the lark,' wrote Emily Dickinson, 'and you'll find the music.' Lucie Brock-Broido is so fiercely wedded to lyric that even this book of disenchantment enchants; the lark sings under the knife. The gorgeous verbal robes of The Master Letters are here, but they slip to reveal a bare and vulnerable clarity that would devastate, where the poems not so beautiful, were they not everywhere lit by the desolate, lark-song speech this astonishing poet loves: 'an attention / So attentive it is next to worship-ping.'"
"Brock-Broido has imaginative finesse, chutzpah, swank, wit, humor, playfulness, and sheer brilliance to spare. . . She's an utter original."
—Calvin Bedient, Parnassus: Poetry in Review
"Butterflies, antique shepherds, hospital beds, Scottish weather, dire wolves and caravans (symbols throughout the book) track the poet's melancholic psyche:" The heart is a place made slippery/ As a minnow confused out// Of its school and caught": these poems confirm Brock-Broido as a poet who finds renewed languages for the recurrent dilemmas such hearts contain."
"Apprenticed to Wallace Stevens, from whose notebooks she takes the titles of several poems, she writes a sensual, sonically rich poetry, typified by the opening of "Spain": 'The god-leash leaves / Its lashes on the broad bunched backs / Of sacrificial animals.' This acoustic gorgeousness, along with her highly figurative cast of mind, creates a striking tension: her new theme is austerity, yet her means remain profligate."
—Maureen N. McLane, The New York Times Book Review read more