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Shoulder Season

Ange Mlinko’s previous books have earned her much praise and fanfare and it does seem like she deserves it. Her third book, Shoulder Season, is sharp, entertaining and engaging. Her poems are timely and important. There are very few poets who can accomplish this feat. She is grappling with the world as it is. The landscapes are chaotic but the messages are not didactic.

Ange Mlinko’s previous books have earned her much praise and fanfare and it does seem like she deserves it. Her third book, Shoulder Season, is sharp, entertaining and engaging. Her poems are timely and important. There are very few poets who can accomplish this feat. She is grappling with the world as it is. The landscapes are chaotic but the messages are not didactic.

This new book is a constant re-working of a theme, filled with repetition and obsession. But her re-workings are no relaxing mantra – they are grappling and neurotic. She creates a bamboo-like texture of “living jointed segments.” Her poems obsessively feed upon themselves, rewarding a careful reading. This is the frenetic landscape in which we live. It is not without its beauties, for sure. But even the very young need to be prepared for battle.

Sometimes she loses us in her world or it gets a little ungainly. “Brigette Bardot lashing out at the leash laws in Zürich” seems to be resting on her laurels of cleverness rather than inventing new language. These wacky non-sequiturs don't delight or appeal to the reader as much as the image of a “penny squashed in a penny-squashing machine” or the brilliance of the first several poems of the book.

Mlinko’s poetry lives in the present and describes it with a chilling accuracy.

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