Compass Rose

Copper Canyon. May 2014. 75p. ISBN 9781556594670. pap. $16. POETRY
In this latest volume from Sze (The Ginkgo Light), "the human mind/ moves from brightest bright to darkest dark." Using the trope of the compass rose, the nautical tool of navigation, these poems are directed by complex and multilayered meanings that find their source in crystalline imagery and insight. Deeply felt and meticulously wrought, Sze's words juxtapose science, myth, and the music of daily life to create an "immediacy of heat." Often, the "here and there dissolve," but locating ourselves in the world is important and necessary, even though we are at the mercy of life's randomness: "these are means// by which we live…nothing in sight/ in all directions;/ a rose flame under our skin."
VERDICT It's easy for readers to become lost in the intricacies, but the beauty of image and symmetry of ideas offer balance and direction. [See Prepub Alert, 9/30/13.]
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