Fragment of the Head of a Queen


Fragment of the Head of a Queen


ISBN: 978-1-932511-51-2 (paper)
Price: $13.95 (paper)
Pages: 88
Trim: 6 x 9
Publication date: 08/2007









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“Cate Marvin’s aptly titled second collection bristles with lyricism and with the intellectual and emotional contradictions that face single women of this time. Always inventive, unafraid of spilling the beans, Marvin can make you laugh at crying and cry at laughing, yet few works so rife with satire ever took the human condition more seriously. Such poetry comes not only of stylistic choices, but of real lives and real hearts in nervous transition. It is well-made, heartfelt, and cool in its restlessness. Even at its most composed, it flashes with temper, merging the metaphysical and the dramatic, and arriving at unpredictable resolutions that seem not so much aesthetically risky as vitally necessary. Fragment of the Head of a Queen makes it clear why Cate Marvin is becoming one of our essential poets.”

—Rodney Jones


“From the blood-soaked cover image of a Snow White–like figure to the final poem (‘You Cut Open’), there is both violence and humor in the 42 lyrics of Marvin’s second book. In her often amped-up sonics (‘standing neck-deep in a pit, whisky-pitched, ether-lit’), her formal skill and her penchant for anger-filled poems on the love/hate of self and beloved, Marvin (World’s Tallest Disaster) suggests a postmodern Plath. But the smirk on the speaker’s face—she is both deadly serious and deadly funny—points these poems past melodrama. ‘Dear less-than-a-man,’ writes Marvin, ‘I think with my blood.’ Often the humor comes when the absurdity of the actual world is mixed with that of the speaker’s world (‘my unsubsidized loan heart’). Marvin also manages a more intimate voice: ‘I would be the worm to your rain soaked side / walk.’ Such tenderness is welcome among so much grief, but so is the ambivalence of Marvin’s elegy detailing a lover’s autopsy. Readers who can believe ‘all love / should be loud enough to scare off the neighbors’ will swoon for this work.”

Publishers Weekly

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