In an Invisible Glass Case Which Is Also a Frame

Four Way. Sept. 2019. 84p. ISBN 9781945588372. pap. $15.95. POETRY
In this intriguing first collection from Guez, a Discovery/Boston Review Poetry Prize winner, one poem declares in its entirety, “But I can be unhappy anywhere, George.” These poems are not, however, soaked in complaint or throbbing grief but a certain contained restlessness, which makes it feel as if the title’s invisible glass box were surrounding us and on the verge of breaking. Life is a complex jumble to be constantly negotiated, but even as we seek for “anything to still the mind,” any “rite wherein/ the sadness may, if only// for a moment, forget its many reasons to be,” there’s ultimately no silver bullet (“patterns aren’t predictive or enduring and they certainly aren’t// magical”). Change is inevitable, departure always imminent, but how does the speaker end up? “Greenery, where before there was amnion,/ pearl, pollen and salt,” as the whimsically titled “Unable To Find What I Was Formerly Sure Was There” avers. Guez’s titles are routinely evocative, both teasing and contextualizing, and in contrast to the collection’s theme, many are “Still Lifes,” e.g., “with Vicodin” or “with Extreme Weather,” as if the poet were trying to pin down the agitated flow she’s revealed.
VERDICT At once moody and meditative, cheeky and bright, Guez’s poems will satisfy many readers, matching their own sense of upheaval.
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