With Trouble in Mind, her long-awaited third collection, Lucie Brock-Broido has written her most exceptional poems to date. There is a new clarity to her work, a disquieting transparency, even in the midst of the wild thickets of language for which she is known. A poet “at the border of her own allegory,” Brock-Broido searches for a lexicon adequate to the extremities of experience–a quest that is as capricious as it is uncompromising. In the process, she reveals, unsparingly, things as they are. In “Pamphlet on Ravening” she recalls, “I was a hunger artist once, as well. / My bones had shone. / I had had rapture on my side.” The book is laced with sequences: haunted, odd self-portraits; a succession of poems provoked by discarded titles by Wallace Stevens; an intermittent series of fractured and beguiling lyrics that she variously refers to as fragments, leaflets, and apologues.
Trouble in Mind is a book that astonishes us afresh at the agility and the uncanny will of language, which Brock-Broido is not afraid to follow where it may lead her: “That the name of bliss is only in the diminishing / (As far as possible) of pain. That I had quit / The quiet velvet cult of it, / Yet trouble came.” Even trouble, in Brock-Broido’s idiom, becomes something resplendent.