Review by UntitledTown Blogger Nick Reilly
At first, “errata” seems a strange title to invoke for a poetry collection–the possible implication being that these are a series of errors, false starts and damaged thoughts. But really, the poetry is the errata, correcting and reinterpreting. Interrogating broken relationships and loss, this errata is actually the crux of what defines us. Lisa Coutley’s examination of a life of loss forms the basis of an assured and polished collection.
Errata is about catharsis, and poetry provides the salve to assuage life. By taking something as powerful as the death of a pet or dissolution of a deep relationship and turning it into poetry, Coutley shows readers how the poem becomes an agent of edification.
Coutley is a confessional poet, and the collection seems to move through some of the bigger, darker events in her poetic speaker’s life in roughly chronological order. This is juxtaposed with her gift for musicality. Her poems have a very satisfying, natural cadence to them, which makes them very appealing, even when dealing with the death of a parent.
There are some dark moments, and Coutley dwells on the darkness, but her poetry never gets lost in it. These are poems of shining a light where there is no resignation. Her poems address loss, but from the perspective of someone with still much to lose—someone not close to giving up. Even though Coutley is shining a light on the darkness, she’s finding a way through it, ahead.
Plath is invoked to begin the volume. Here, Coutley builds on Plath’s strength, taking her personal subject matter as a scaffolding to build her thoughts about life. There is no airing of grievances here. Instead, there is formal daring and terrific metrical control. Like Plath, Coutley finds the beauty in distress.