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Excessive Love Prostheses

by Margaret Christakos

Margaret Christakos quotes fellow poet Lola Lemire Tostevin in the prologue to Excessive Love Prostheses: “the amputated/truncated text/follows an imaginary line/and grows/extravagant.” Reading the poems that follow, I would have to place the word “sometimes” before “grows” to describe the collection.

I say “sometimes” for a number of reasons. First, Christakos is a talented poet who is capable – as many poems in this collection illustrate – of writing beautifully about even the most tragic of situations. Some of these poems, though, should not have made this collection, and detract from the eccentric rhythm of those that succeed. This is unfortunate, because Christakos is a poet with something to say and stories to tell, characteristics that seem to be growing rarer in poetry these days.

Many of the poems here are elegiac and/or pastoral and relate the tragedies and successes of a myriad of voices. Like quickly skimming through someone else’s diary, the reader is bombarded with words and images and left to decipher the meaning through rereading the poems. Even the poems’ alignment on the page is opened to playful manipulation. In a section entitled “H-L: Journal Notes,” the heterosexual poems are aligned on the left, homosexual on the right, and bisexual in the middle. This arrangement speaks to the attention Christakos has paid to the overall design of her book.

But where sections like “Career Paths” and “Reuters’s Breast” succeed because of their cleverness, other sections like “Therapeutic Recovery” and “Lulls” disappoint with their predictability.

Excessive Love Prostheses is interesting and at times captivating. The striking nature of the better poems only drive home the point that the lesser works could have been excluded or rewritten for later publication.


Reviewer: Patrick Woodcock

Publisher: Coach House Books


Price: $16.95

Page Count: 88 pp

Format: Paper

ISBN: 1-55245-102-X

Released: June

Issue Date: 2002-7

Categories: Poetry