“I passed through, I should have paused”: “In the Corridor” from Saksia Hamilton’s Corridor

CorridorSaskia Hamilton’s Corridor* was one of this year’s more challenging reads for me. Ms. Hamilton’s poems carefully shaped and almost spare in style, but their content is so dense that I’d often read a poem three or four times before I felt I was beginning to understand it. This isn’t a criticism, necessarily; I read poetry in part because I like to be asked to use the mental flexibility and creativity at my disposal. Ms. Hamilton’s poems require quite a bit of both.

Corridor‘s poems are observant, almost painterly. Ms. Hamilton offers us carefully-described scenes in nature and in rooms, but the effect of her lines is to make us feel as if we’re definitely in a place, but not of it; we are passing through. This emphasis on transience applies not only to places, but also to objects and books (there’s a wonderful poem that refers to Milton’s Satan in Paradise Lost). Throughout the collection, I found the interplay of intimacy and dispassionate interest fascinating.

If you’d like to sample one of Ms. Hamilton’s poems, you can read “In the Corridor” here. Corridor is a collection that rewards the effort required to read it, and I’m pleased to recommend it.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes, which did not affect the content of my review.