R's Boat

At the intersection of narrative theory and autobiography, the poems in R's Boat consider how a life might be rendered. Robertson's source texts are her own notebooks, as are the theoretical considerations of Rousseau (the R in question), and she creates a work that is self-referential but not bound by chronology or a constructed plot that might override emotional significance. One attribute of R's Boat is the transparency of the project itself. Intent is the poetry, rather than the impetus for poetic imagery. Robertson writes, in the long section "Face/":

I had insisted on my body's joy and little else.
I will not remember, only transcribe.
This is the first time I've really wanted to be

Later, in the section "Utopia/":

I wanted narrative to be a picture of distances
          ringed in purple.

R's Boat grapples with form, the constraint of language and tradition, and the challenge to avoid anything that might exist as template. The poems examine feminism, discourse, the body, and poetry itself through sumptuous, seductive language.

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