Kathryn Starbuck is the editor, with Elizabeth Meese, of two books of poems by the late George Starbuck: Visible Ink and The Works: Poems Selected from Five Decades. Her first book of poems, Griefmania, was published by Sheep Meadow. She lives in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Though Circe’s potion fails to enchant wily Odysseus, who has inoculated himself against her magic, that doesn’t mean the man of twists and turns won’t agree to pause to be beguiled a while in Circe’s bed. Like crafty Odysseus, Kathryn Starbuck is pleased to play at oblivion now and then, here and there, but only on her own terms, and always with the knowledge that soon enough she must sail on. A trickster can’t be tricked, and Starbuck understands full well every happy home crumbles in slow-motion, the lover will disappoint or disappear, the longed-for peace will turn again to war, but perhaps–just perhaps–the odyssey from this dreamy moment to that sure disaster will be sweet. Starbuck’s new poems are built of hard experience and loss but radiate innocence and joy in their expression; “Her / distant dusty dreamland, / where people perch on each others’ laps, / laughing and listening / through the night, / [comes] into focus now / and then when she whistle[s] a song / of hope not drowned in grief.” It’s a siren song; the ruin toward which it draws us is wisdom.