Marnie claims to be an expose that reveals nothing, but really it reveals everything and shapes this everything into a wondrous polyphony. Few books are more joyous to read and even fewer are less predictable. We live in a time where poetry is presumed to have a stable subject and a righteous politics, a time when poems more often lecture than complicate. If you like your poetry this way, maybe don’t bother with this book.
Marnie wades fearlessly into our historical and ongoing disaster, its inescapable numb rage unfolding through twisted nursery rhymes, murder plots, family dramas, and prescription drugs. Scozzaro steadfastly studies the terror of late capital—the heteronormative family, gender, nationalism—and while these things are not funny, the book is hilarious and impossible to put down. Stop reading this blurb and start reading Marnie.
Marnie is a story of repetition: Hitchcock’s phobic heroine can find no relief from returning to the scene of her trauma. Connie Scozzaro’s Marnie returns and is returned to the sites where literary value is horded, from Chaucer and ballad metre to Milton and Eliot, just as she returns through America to England’s not so pleasant land. But like the rampant flowers in ‘Lycidas’ that defy mourning and claim life, Scozzaro’s verse shakes off chemical stupefaction and the deadliness of (Theresa) May, to find ‘beneath the primrose and thistle / and flirting foxglove / was a life-size hole, defiant and ecstatic.’ These poems’ ‘intractable demand’ is to survive the harm of ‘loving the wrong things forever’: an ecstatic, bewildered endeavour, not dead, and wide awake.