Suzanne Hancock | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Suzanne Hancock 

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Suzanne Hancock works the hell out of bridge metaphors in her first full-length collection of poems, Another Name for Bridge (Mansfield Press). There's the bridge crossed growing up, the bridge as "swollen and vascular" love "holding two torsos immobile," the bridge from one season to the next. There's even the bridge as bridge, "a leap into the unknown, / but it is still beam and arch." She's a fan of individual structures--the Golden Gate, the Ponte Vecchio, Galloping Gertie, which collapsed over the Tacoma Narrows in 1940--and uses their particulars to chart the course of her own life. Two prose pieces early in the book, one about a child waiting for the mother who abandoned her family, the other depicting a grown daughter dining with her alcoholic father, are swift sketches of a family and a child "still dependent on two / opposite points," as she says in a later verse about, yes, a bridge. Many of these poems seem still wet from the MFA workshop, relying on vague images like sky and water and coming across as artificially pained. But elsewhere her eye is keen, and she consistently makes good use of the histories of others, whether in two poems inspired by a friend's stories of deer hunting or in an austere sequence of poems about the last days of Rene Descartes in frigid Sweden, where "in this dark he is certain / that all he knows wouldn't produce even a spark." Hancock shares a bill with Jessica Smucker Falcon and Christina Pugh. Sun 7/24, 7 PM, Myopic Books, 1564 N. Milwaukee, 773-862-4882.

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