The people in Lise Goett’s stunning collection are waiting-restlessly, blindly, hopefully-for the one who gives succor, the Paraclete of the title. With a vision both expansive and acute, Goett takes in everything from a fishing accident in Wisconsin to a butcher’s stall in Paris and even the life and death of Gary Gilmore, to focus with a rare combination of emotional exactitude and music on the forces that govern the world of the flesh as it transforms into the world of the spirit.
“This exemplary first collection is the lyric record of a contemplative spirit’s going-forth, of her soul’s discernment, the experience of personal and intimate communion, erotic passion and divine mystery, corporeal hunger and ‘naught else but yearning’ for the mysterium tremendum. There is a radiance about these poems, and a supplicant’s willingness to lay bare the desire enshrined in her very selfhood. For this poet, music is the soul’s correlative, the sheath that allows the journey to be borne.” —Carolyn Forché
“This new poet relies on the telling of drastic things, even joy, even assent. She trusts to what the French call histoires, meaning trouble, meaning lies, meaning truth. For story organizes our mind and what faith we have: narrative is the final governance-as in these patient, swift poems-of the merest lyric cry. Just consider how Lise Goett begins a poem: ‘Look up. Your life is suddenly ending-’ and even more potently, how she ends one:
. . . until something happens,
until a river runs through the house
and washes everything away:
then in the morning we’ll rise, we’ll begin,
to build our Babel again.
Poetic authority (as juridical, psychiatric, dramatic) is in the tale-bearing. Lise Goett is speaking for her life, and we are compelled to listen-she is a Scheherazade of the spirit.” —Richard Howard