Poetry Books

How Much Paint Does the Painting Need

1988, Kulchur Foundation

In its uncompromising savagery, its passionate rejection of sentimentality, its black humor, and its sheer outrageousness, Rochelle Owens' lyric voice is unique among contemporary poets. As in the case of Futz and her other plays, the poems in this new collection hover on the edge of darkness; as in the plays, that edge is never crossed for the poet knows that even the most painful and ludicrous situation can be distanced by humor and understanding. Whether she is writing about the anthropologist she has met at a dinner party, about painters like Van Gogh or poets like T. S. Eliot, or about her own moments of anxiety and depression, Owens keeps experience in check by the tautness of her rhetoric and the economy of her language. A brilliant book!