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“Something Like a Baffled Scientist”: A Review of Ken Babstock’s Methodist Hatchet - THE PURITAN
Pick a single poem from Ken Babstock’s fourth collection, Methodist Hatchet, and it will most likely be a tangled ball of poetics and argument that very slowly reveals its order, if it does at all. But if you consider the book as a whole, an uneven completeness emerges, with certain phrases or poems standing out as close approximations of a rough coherence. As in previous Babstock offerings, this collection is made up of intensely individual lyrics of no longer than a few pages each. Each poem, then, must be considered in a vacuum at the same time that it is considered in relation to the book’s general thrust. The result is a kind of imperfect fractal relationship between poem and collection, in which each poem could only have come out of this collection, but in which no one poem can be said to represent the …