Matt Valentine


Mary Ruefle

Nov. 14
7 p.m.
Literary, Poetry

Mary Ruefle’s poems are the work of a naturist who while stopping to smell the roses takes careful notes on the stamens and pistils. She’s an abstract fabulist whose caprices can both satirize and enrich an undergirding melancholy. “I feed my sorrow,” begins one poem inauspiciously. A few lines later she’s feeding her sorrow blueberries and buying it batteries, and by the end we’ve passed through an obliquely wise, gently funny meditation. Ruefle also writes essays of various sorts, most famously in Madness, Rack, and Honey, a collection culled from lectures presented to poetry grad students. Learned but not scholarly, these pieces are full of provocative and useful bits of poetics, metaphysics, smartly chosen quotations, and dubious ideas colorfully expressed. She has also produced erasure-derived works such as A Little White Shadow, a little-known 19th-century book largely whited out to reveal elliptical miniatures.