In this exacting debut, Ives's long poem presents the progression of language through the act of self-censorship. Her subtly fierce rendering of how a thought arrives and places itself in the enduring trajectory of a personal narrative is complicated by the fact that what is crossed out still exists on the page, encapsulates its own meaning. Ives's series is not an act of erasure, then, but a meditation on permanence.

Write, "I needed a lot of things"
Cross this out
Write, "When one has come to have only a
          memory of feeling"
Cross this out
Write, "But I stay like this, I change and I don't,
          embarrassed by my own presence"

Both idea making and language making become somewhat mystical through this process, prompting the reader to wonder, as Maxine Chernoff writes in the book's introduction, "what previous life brought these sentences to the page...what invisible prayer was erased even before meaning was posited."

This book review originally appeared in American Poets, fall 2010, issue 39.