Darren Bifford’s Wolf Hunter Reviewed

January 2, 2011 at 6:05 pm Leave a comment

Over the holidays, I was happy to stumble upon a review of Darren Bifford’s Wolf Hunter on Holly Luhning’s blog. Here’s a taste:

“Last week, Cactus Press launched its fall slate of chapbooks. I had the good fortune to read Darren Bifford’s accomplished and muscular collection, Wolf Hunter.

The chapbook begins with a sonnet sequence “Letters to Milosz.” Bifford’s language, as evident in the first few lines of the speaker to Milosz, is simultaneously taut and lush: “A circus swaggers to town. Its tents/flop down like the lopped-off ears of giants./Stink smears the air, spreads like a rash:/Elephant shit and elephant skin, smells/Of lions and tigers in caged dens.” Bifford fuses the fantastical world of giants and carnivals with unsettling corporeal elements of illness, feces, and caged (animal) bodies. This strategy of juxtaposing the fantastic with the base, the beautiful with the ominous is synergistic with the seductive rhythms Bifford builds, then releases into unsettling, often threatening turns of phrase. The sequence is populated with lines that court the reader with delicate repetition, as when the speaker says “you and I/find a corner table, drink a bottle/of scotch aged since the last ice age/near the shores of the North Sea so that you can taste the sea ebb/down your throat.” However, these lulling lines often resolve into a sparse, menacing point that’s all the more effective because of the rhythms and slant rhymes that precede it: “The ratty chair creaks on the porch and you don’t bother to note the croaking toads, whether they are/or are not like music, nor if occasionally he raises a rifle to his chin and aims and fires off a few shots.”

You can read the rest of the review here.

Wolf Hunter‘s title poem, which won The Malahat Review’s Far Horizon Award, can be found here.

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Entry filed under: News.

Winter 2010 Cactus Press Chapbook Cover Preview Misunderstandings Magazine #15

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