Poetry News

At The Guardian: Karen Green's Debut Collection, Bough Down

By Harriet Staff


Published by Siglio Press, Karen Green's debut collection of prose poems and collages, Bough Down, addresses her experiences following the suicide of her husband: the late David Foster Wallace.

It's garnering fantastic reviews and we can't wait to read it. Most recently, Bough Down received some love from The Guardian:

Artist Karen Green's meditation on grief following the suicide of her husband, the author David Foster Wallace, is drawing laudatory reviews in America, where it has been described as "an astonishment" and an "instant classic".

Bough Down is a collection of prose poems interspersed with small collages, in which Green charts her "passage through grief", said small US publisher Siglo Press, which released the book earlier this spring. Green's husband Wallace, best known for the novel Infinite Jest, committed suicide at home in 2008, and was found by Green...

Reviews in the US have been slow to trickle in, but the small book is beginning to draw attention. "Ms Green turns out to be a profoundly good writer: Bough Down is lovely, smart and funny, in addition to being brutally clear and sad," writes the Wall Street Journal. "Perhaps most impressive about Bough Down is that, despite the poetic pitch of its language, it refuses to poeticize its subject. It does not resolve into pure despondency, on the one hand, or redemptive hope, on the other. Instead, Ms Green registers the complexity of grief and in the process makes something beautiful out of the saddest stuff in the world."

The Los Angeles Review of Books calls it "an astonishment", with reviewer and poet Maggie Nelson describing it as "one of the most moving, strange, original, harrowing, and beautiful documents of grief and reckoning I've read".

"The book feels like an instant classic, but without any of the aggrandizement that can attend such a thing. Instead it is suffused throughout with the dissonant, private richness of the minor, while also managing to be a major achievement," said Nelson.

And in the Los Angeles Times last week, Jacob Silverman called it "mournful and a touch angry but also generous of heart and even, in rare moments, lightly comic".

He went on to quote Green's observation that "there is the thing itself, and then there is the predicament of its cavity". "This book doesn't fill that cavity (what can?). It only traces its contours – powerfully, gorgeously," writes Silverman.

Score your copy at Siglio Press.

Originally Published: June 10th, 2013