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Barbara A. Holland - The Secret Agent

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Barbara A. Holland. The Secret Agent, And Other Poems from Notebooks and Chapbooks. Edited by Brett Rutherford.
Barbara A. Holland (1925-1988) was best-known for her alarming and terrifying supernatural and myth-infused poems, and for her large cycle of poems that transferred the surrealist visions of Belgian painter René Magritte to the gritty streets of Greenwich Village. The never-published manuscript titled The Secret Agent is something very different: a spiritual and psychological battleground. These are not freestanding poems such as one finds in little magazines, but a series of interlocked self-debates in which Hindu gods, un-named lovers, and a mysterious Secret Agent who may have stepped from a Magritte canvas, vie for attention, and for the poet’s soul. Like Rilke’s Duino Elegies, these strange poems, full of arresting, pin-prick images and startling lines, may defy easy interpretation.

This volume also includes the full text of another long-unavailable chapbook, Lens, Light and Sound, and a completion of Holland’s longest and most unusual unfinished work, a text for a macabre cat story in the manner of Edward Gorey, now titled Buster, or The Unclaimed Urn, the life, adventures, and sad fate of a flying housecat.

To round out the collection, Holland’s longtime publisher Brett Rutherford has added sketches and unknown poems from the poet’s notebooks and manuscripts, now available for the first time. Finally, the book concludes with a set of Holland’s supernatural “warhorses,” the most powerful incantatory poems she performed for enthralled audiences all over the Northeastern United States.

This is the 307th publication of The Poet's Press.
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