Literary Saloon
Site of Review.

Trying to meet all your book preview and review needs.

the Best
the Rest
Review Index



to e-mail us:

support the site

In Association with Amazon.com

In association with Amazon.com - UK



the Complete Review
the complete review - poetry

Supernatural Love

Gjertrud Schnackenberg

general information | review summaries | our review | links | about the author

To purchase Supernatural Love

Title: Supernatural Love
Author: Gjertrud Schnackenberg
Genre: Poetry
Written: (2000)
Length: 261 pages
Availability: Supernatural Love: Poems 1976-1992 - US
Supernatural Love: Poems 1976-2000 - UK
  • The American edition of Supernatural Love includes:
    • Portraits and Elegies (see our review)
    • The Lamplit Answer (see our review)
    • A Gilded Lapse of Time (see our review)
  • The British edition includes these three earlier collections, as well as The Throne of Labdacus (see our review)

- Return to top of the page -

Our Assessment:

B+ : a talented poet, interesting pieces

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Antioch Review . Summer/2001 Carol Moldaw
The New Criterion . 12/2000 William Logan
The New Republic . 12/11/2001 Glyn Maxwell
The NY Rev. of Books . 29/3/2001 Daniel Mendelsohn
The NY Times Book Rev. . 29/10/2000 Adam Kirsch
Poetry . 11/2001 Christian Wiman
TLS A 8/2/2002 Ruth Fainlight

  Review Consensus:

  An important poet

  From the Reviews:
  • "Her poems wrestle with moral failure not in the light of philosophy but in the darkness after it." - William Logan, The New Criterion

  • "(M)uch of her best work, even in the poems that most obviously manifest such width and perspective, is in the exquisite accuracy with which she beholds details, as if the bright child did her true apprenticeship not in the beam of the study lamp, but in the glow of the dollhouse windows." - Glyn Maxwell, The New Republic

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

- Return to top of the page -

The complete review's Review:

       Supernatural Love includes practically all of Gjertrud Schnackenberg's poetry (the British edition more than the American one) -- see our reviews of the collections included here, Portraits and Elegies, The Lamplit Answer, A Gilded Lapse of Time (and The Throne of Labdacus).
       There's not that much bulk to it -- the American edition has only 261 pages, with much free space throughout, and Schnackenberg's poetry isn't dense in its presentation -- but there is a great deal here. There are few short poems that stand on their own: most of the short poems are parts of longer sequences. Many of the poems are (relatively) long. Schnackenberg likes to explore a subject in some depth, whether memories of her father or the inspiration of the mosaics of Ravenna.
       She is a story-teller, but also a poet of ideas. She revels in allusion and draws inspiration from much learned material (the endnotes are not copious but bespeak a very broad range of humanistic knowledge and interests).
       The poetry is, at least at first glance, approachable. Schnackenberg doesn't look for the obscurest way to express an idea or revel in any sort of technical jargon. She even uses rhyme on occasion. But it's not all as straightforward as it might appear -- approachable, yes, but layered, textured, nuanced.
       The long poems often aren't built up as one might expect -- with a gradual crescendo or a clear progression. Instead, Schnackenberg often circles and circles back, or considers another vantage point. History plays a large role in her poetry, and Schnackenberg is aware of how unreliable history can be, that events can be seen in other ways.
       A few things occasionally jar: the earnest father-obsession, and many of the religion-tainted efforts. But then she can also surprise with her humour (as in, for example, the clever "Sonata").

       Schnackenberg is certainly a poet worth knowing, and Supernatural Love covers most (and in the UK: all) of her poetry to date, so it can certainly be recommended.

- Return to top of the page -


Supernatural Love: Reviews: Other books by Gjertrud Schnackenberg under review: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of Poetry under review

- Return to top of the page -

About the Author:

       American poet Gjertrud Schnackenberg was born in 1953. She has won many awards, fellowships, and grants.

- Return to top of the page -

© 2002-2010 the complete review

Main | the New | the Best | the Rest | Review Index | Links