Summer 1996 • Vol. XVIII No. 3/4 Book ReviewsJuly 1, 1996 |

The Natural Is What Poetry Contests

Sensual Math by Alice Fulton. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 1995. 128 pages. $17.95.        For immersion see "passion between." See opposite of serene. For synonym and homonym see "rapt" and "wrapped."       ("The Priming Is a Negligee" 3-4)   Yet immersion's also treason to a naming that's a nailing down. It's the barcode riddled down the middle so the product's up for grabs== what no register can scan.           ("Immersion" 68) Alice Fulton writes poems that defy comprehension. In Fulton's poetics, this is high praise. Her fourth book, Sensual Math, establishes a complex poetics of negative value, by which Fulton attempts to redefine the role of both poet and reader. In almost every poem she reflects on the urge to comprehend—to define, to contain—as a metaphorical violence, an act of repression that poetry must contest. It is an impulse she seems to know well. Her style is broadly inclusive, drawing the langua

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Sergei Lobanov-Rostovsky is the associate editor of The Kenyon Review.

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