The recently released Fall/Winter 2007-2008 issue (Volume IX, Number 1) of Valparaiso Poetry Review includes a review by Diane Lockward of Kathleen Flenniken’s Famous. A brief excerpt from the beginning of this review follows below.
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Kathleen Flenniken must have thought 2005 was her own anno mirabilis. First she won a National Endowment for the Arts Literary Fellowship, a rare achievement for a poet without a book. That gap, however, was soon filled when she won the prestigious Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry. Everyone knows that poetry book contests are highly competitive, some attracting as many as 1000 entries. The odds of winning are slim, and yet someone wins. How? Why this book and not those others? A close look at Flenniken’s Famous might reveal some answers.
Famous is initially distinguished by its organizational integrity. Flenniken gives us not merely a bunch of good poems but a collection of them, that is, poems artistically arranged into a unified whole. She divides her fifty-one poems into three sections: “Minor Characters,” “Minor Celebrities,” and “Fame.” As these headings suggest, her overarching concern is our tenuous relationship to fame . . ..
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Readers are encouraged to visit Valparaiso Poetry Review to examine the entire Lockward review and all the other reviews, poems, and articles contained in the journal’s new issue, as well as VPR’s past issues listed in the archives, particularly the Spring/Summer 2007 issue (Volume VIII, Number 2) that included Diane Lockward as its featured poet.