Without Warning
Poems by Patricia Donegan.
Foreword by Allen Ginsberg.
Parallax Press: Berkeley, 1991.
99 pp. $8.00 (paperback).

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Image: Patricia Donegan.

Patricia Donegan writes along one of poetry’s borders: simplicity. A “simple” poem can be overlooked or dismissed easily, but the reward for writing this way is penetrating clarity. Donegan’s poems don’t attempt to envelope the reader in atmosphere. They approach and enter like acupuncture needles.

I sit by my window eating an orange
you enter
& undress me
without a word.

Wait a minute. Simplicity is one thing; this is nakedness. But Donegan has the courage to write unadorned, to “lay bare” her mind for us, and we read about bare bodies in the bloom of youth, in maturity, and in decay. Nakedness, for Donegan, is the ultimate simplicity.

When a poet chooses direct address and straightforward­ness, two criteria apply: first, that the directness be a distillation of experience rather than technique; second, that the insight be absolutely genuine, as Robert Creeley asks, “Was that a real poem, or did you just make it up yourself?”

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