This is the first Clauidia Emerson book I've read and it makes me want to read her others. I have to admit though, that on my first reading, I thought, "Big whoop." But after sitting and really digesting it, it started to win me over. She has the great poetic ability to capture, with candid detail, those rare emotional moments we have in life, like: divorce, death, lost love, fear of being lonely, etc.
There's no questioning her poetic skill. She uses all the tools and uses them well. But I think what turned me off initially was her ryhme scheme and use of white space. Sometimes her ryhming is too thick and noticeable, which gets in the way of what she is trying to convey. Also, many of her poems are long and structured using tercets (3 line stanzas). After reading five or six poems that look the same, you begin to grow weary and lose interest. Other than those considerations, "Late Wife" is an excellent collection. I am looking forward to her next piece of work.
Favorite poems and quotes from "Late Wife":
1. The Autobon Collection- "There will always be/such things I regret knowing."
2. House-Sitting- "Evenings/I lit candles as though for guests/and danced with my own vanishing/as the prisms moved in the draft/my body made of the stillness."
3. Rent- "But I imagine the walls still disappear inside/themselves, vacant forms, and the house grows/lighter, a deceitful ruin that lingers, rising//longer than it should above you and the fertile/hunger that will, with enough time, consume it-/before going on to another survival."