WantSarabande Books (2008)
Rick Barot’s exquisite and subtle sensibility, like Keats’s, is led in equal measure by a tough intellect and an open heart. He follows his own prescription to “Tell each story cold,” and with a magician’s verve and aplomb, he makes language perform its most convincing tricks by pulling the handkerchief from what is otherwise “an empty fist,” by finding the “white nouns of the moon.” Barot’s Want is dexterous and thrilling, and his capacious and generous vision shows us how the eye survives “to correct the heart.”
After my first reading, I believed the image of a “marble nipple” embodied the sculpted intensity of Want. After a second reading, I decided the book’s defining image was the carnality of a “puggish, miniature barbell pierced into a nipple.” By the fourth and fifth readings, I realized Barot was gliding easily between classic and romantic, formal and organic in his explorations of desire. But frankly, I’ve grown too intoxicated, too gripped by this wonderful collection to reduce it to a single idea. In Rick Barot’s hands every poem casts at least two luminous shadows. Want is masterfully merciless and merciful at the same time.