Friday, March 07, 2008

Charles Simic's Dime-Store Alchemy: The Art of Joseph Cornell
reviewed by Guy Rotella

Charles Simic, Dime-Store Alchemy: The Art of Joseph Cornell.
Hopewell, New Jersey: The Ecco Press, 1992. 77 pp. $19.95.

"It goes without saying."
So nothing stays. But husks remain. As in "Deserted Perch." What's fled or flown can be evoked: the solace soothes; it menaces, too.
Nostalgic, enigmatic, even coy, Joseph Cornell's recuperating, scarifying work has urged a pride of poets to comment or verse. Octavio Paz wrote "Objects and Apparitions" for Cornell, calling his cased and uncontained constructions "cages for infinity." Elizabeth Bishop translated Paz's poem and made a "Cornell box" herself. In "Pantoum," John Ashbery enlists Cornell with other "connoisseurs of oblivion" who inhabit our "short, brittle" days. And Stanley Kunitz admires a Cornell work— "The Crystal Cage"—for its "basket of gifts," its "snowbox of wonders."

Read the full review here.