The Game of Boxes: Poems

The Game of Boxes: Poems Review

The second collection by Catherine Barnett, whose “poems are scrupulously restrained and beautifully made” (Edward Hirsch, The Washington Post)


Everyone asks us what we're afraid of
but children aren't supposed to say.
We could put loneliness on the list.
We could put the list on the list, its infinity.
We could put infinity down.
--from “Fields of No One to Ask”

In Catherine Barnett's The Game of Boxes, love stutters its way in and out of both family and erotic bonds. Whittled down to song and fragments of story, these poems teeter at the edge of dread. A gang of unchaperoned children, grappling with blame and forgiveness, speak with tenderness and disdain about “the mothers” and “the fathers,” absent figures they seek in “the faces of clouds” and in the cars that pass by. Other poems investigate the force of maternal love and its at-times misguided ferocities. The final poem, a long sequence of nocturnes, eschews almost everything but the ghostly erotic. These are bodies at the edge of experience, watchful and defamiliarized.

Title:The Game of Boxes: Poems
Edition Language:English

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    The Game of Boxes: Poems Reviews

  • Jee Koh

    Of Catherine Barnett's James Laughlin Award-winning book, April Bernard, one of the three judges, wrote, "With subtle and cumulative force, The Games of Boxes builds a complex poetic structure in whic...

  • Karlo Mikhail

    Very nice. Won over by the plainspoken and restraint side by side with the playfulness and the repetition. Love the sequence pertaining to childhood / motherhood anxieties, less so the vague sensualis...

  • Grady

    Exploring corners and planes of thoughtCatherine Barnett has found her voice and it at times is reassuring while at other times disconcerting, yet no matter the direction each poem takes, the result i...

  • Susan Rich

    Catherine Barnett is a poet you need to read if you are of this century but also a little bit lost in the past. This is a beautiful book that invites the reader into a crystalized world --- written --...

  • Kathleen

    Spare, intense, erotic. These are startling and resonant poems that I am still savoring long after reading....

  • Jeanne

    Poetic fragments of stories told in concise language, with much left to imagination. The subject matter of relationships, both with lovers and with children, give reason to celebrate our excess and ab...

  • Literary Review The

    Catherine BarnettThe Game of BoxesBy F. Daniel Rzicznek"The Game of Boxes" was reviewed in The Literary Review"Loss Control" Fall 2012As a writer, I create yearlong, but because of my position as an i...

  • Shruti

    The poem 'Chorus', which begins with the line "We didn’t believe an elephant could squeeze into church alone", is worth the price of entry all by itself....

  • D.A. Gray

    Receiving this turned out to be pleasant surprise.Barnett seems to find the sublime in the subway, in a discussion of religion, alone, or in a simple game played with the speaker's son. In addition to...

  • Andrea Blythe

    It took me a while to connect with the poems in this collection. Some poems I had to reread several times until they began to click (though I think the distance had more to do with my headspace than w...