Gjertrud Schnackenberg The Lamplit Answer.
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 83 pages, $12.95

This eagerly awaited book, by a young, gifted poet, is not quite all it was hoped it would be. No doubt expectations were too high to begin with. Thirty-three-year-old Gjertrud Schnackenberg has already received many major prizes in her short career as a poet, and her first book—chapbook, really —entitled Portraits and Elegies (1982), was widely praised. All this may have led us to believe, quite unfairly, that this would be a faultless book. Unfortunately, it isn’t. There are some wonderful things here. But the author has chosen to include, among the many formal poems that are her real distinction, a small group of rather lackluster confessional works. No doubt Schnackenberg hoped these poems would inject a personal element into what she may have felt was a decidedly impersonal collection. Whatever her...

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