Review of Cold Comfort by Len Fulton in Small Press Review Oct-Nov 1997

The Earth that inhabits poet Lifshin and informs her work glides across a universe of big colors and small dramas. She everywhere roots for that new, stripped piece of a life– usually her own– that yields the bare emotional atom. She never fully exploits an image. She under-uses everything, touches down on some moment of the geography she has been inventing for more than a quarter of a century– and is gone. Often you look for more: never wish for less.

You know the story
of the woman in a
turret and how ivy
puts its fingers
across the moon.
And besides, no one
could hear. Ivy
that grows forever
against the dankest
part of a wall,
gnawing gargoyles
deep in the belly
of the house. I would
have lowered my hair
to a lover, lured
him with blood
in a bottle, each
drop a ruby with
a poem etched on it.
Or carved my initials
in the grey stone
around my heart.
I’d have talked to
the birds or waited,
slept twenty years,
given away my children.
Only I was outside,
trying to get in

So opens this very special collection just published by Black Sparrow, Though Lyn Lifshin is closing in on nearly a hundred books published, this is apparently the first "definitive work
with poems written over the past twenty-five years

COLD COMFORT reaches into several of Lifshin’s favorite and most called upon emotional habitations: herself (autobiography) love and erotica, mothers/ daughters, other people, place, war, and Barbie, Mad Girls, and Lorena and Jesus. This later, of course, traverses the odds and ends of the several avatars which the poet has assigned herself over the past decades. "Barbie" and "Lorena," in particular, slip into worlds of emotionalrisk– chaos– that the poet eschews for herself directly:

Lorena hears her penis calling for her
moaning like a baby
left in the reeds,
vulnerable as a little
Moses, bobbing along
in a basket on its own

Reification is importnat to the Lifshin geography as she pieces a "place" together breath by breath, line by line, image by image. She almost never backs off to pronounce an accumulated wisdom. It’s as if

"Her life
was leaves resting on a
lake fish drift up
in thru dark water"

The most published poet in the world today, Lifshin shows here, with this book, what many literary magazines have known for decades: she’s a poet of substance, range and invention. And this book by Black Sparrow showcases her work well.