Rarely have the tortuous dimensions of life lived against the grain of existence been so wittily, so achingly, so stingingly and yet economically sewn together, and with lyrical needles threaded to an anomic precision and harrowing spartanism—alternately languid and feral—and yet fully alive and alight in the face of despair and darkness. It's as if the viscous attar of sexuality and relationships, gender bruises, mental states and discomfits and deteriorations, temporal and spatial stretching and crushing, the particulate radioactivity of pain and pleasure and their twinned allure to the sly and greasy promises of death, were all cornered, captured, and compressed within fragments of sentence and phrase, and then painted and lacquered such that they stood, apart but connected, as beads and gewgaws of sparkling, sometimes severe, colour and form. Hurt in short hops. Pain bled thin and patched with bows and sequins. Primal emotions as cutlets, or cubed and spaced like the stars. Hardly an easy or benignant experience, and one that pushes you away more readily than admits you within—but nonetheless starkly beautiful in sudden stabs or lathed poses and palpably resonant to those accustomed to being cut and/or doing the cutting.
One thing: the Faber and Faber edition that I own does not contain the sublimely taut Lady Lazarus, one of her most effective and affective poems—but it's made up for with having introduced me to the likes of Suicide off Egg Rock, Insomniac, Finisterre and Edge.