A very belated thanks to Patrick Nathan for his thoughtful essay, “Changed Note,” up at Mill City Bibliophine.
. . . What Miller’s collection does, however, is reveal that testosterone and masculinity are only problems inasmuch as life itself is a problem. Her poems look with horror upon the male propensity for destruction, but also breathlessly at its brief and opaque beauty. In “Cambiata,” she glances at the life of Jean-Baptiste Maunier, “the boy soprano who charmed / his way out of a wilderness of lack.” The poem’s epigraph, attributed to Andy Martin, is possibly the saddest thing I’ve ever read: “The male treble voice achieves its maximum power and resonance just as it is disappearing.” The title comes from the Italian nota cambiata, or “changed note,” a fittingly musical terminology that can signify a sudden dissonance, an interruption in the melody, or a loss of harmony. For boys, this metaphoric cambiata sounds somewhere between 11 and 14, all because – as Miller notes in the book’s title poem – of one “frizzy blot of genetic code directing the symphony / of a trillion sperm,” after which harmony is a thing of memory, overtaken by the body’s cacophony of desire. . .