Night School

Penguin (Poets). Apr. 2018. 112p. ISBN 9780143132356. $20; ebk. ISBN 9780525504337. POETRY
In the opening poem of his latest collection, Pulitzer Prize winner Dennis (Practical Gods) stands amid cottonwood trees that have taken root where sludge was once dumped and declares, "It's time to focus on the life at hand." Yet soon he imagines nearby strollers taking him for a "Late-blooming cottonwood creature" or "self-appointed surveyor of urban wetlands." And in the following poem he creates multiple stories for a middle-aged woman eating alone, wanting to assure himself that she "Hasn't made a wrong turn in life that's deprived her/ Of friends and family." Clearly, Dennis likes to look beyond to the world's possibilities, rethinking what he sees, and he warns us that our paths aren't set; his grandparents met only because of a train breakdown.
VERDICT Seriously inventive and delightful; for most readers.

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