Rocks on a Platter
Author: Barbara Guest
Publisher: Wesleyan University Press (1999)
Rocks on a Platter began as an attempt to write about the making of a poem and in so doing, establishes a literary approach other than the essay form, with the rocks of the title being offered for the poem's construction. The resulting long poem is a meditation on the difficulty of assemblage and seeks to express and reflect on the poetic process. Barbara Guest's densely but deftly allusive poetry reveals the range and depth of her cultural knowledge, bespeaking a major poet at the peak of her powers.
Guest's work is saturated in the visual arts and music, and extends the formal experiments of modernism, playing abstract qualities of language against its sensuousness and materiality, and switching effortlessly from the real to the imagined. Innovative, intimate, erudite, her poems articulate a feminist aesthetic that seeks not to dispel mystery but to elaborate and perpetuate it.