NONFICTION

Oceanic

Copper Canyon. Apr. 2018. 80p. ISBN 9781556595264. pap. $17. POETRY
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Multi-award-winning poetNezhukumatathil (Lucky Fish) writes sharp poems that internalize nature and make its voice palpable, using lyrical language to reconnect us with nature's inhabitants and investigate their relationship with humans, personally and culturally. To do so, she often uses simple but alluring imagery in a reportage style: "Whales the color of milk have washed ashore/ in Germany, their stomachs clogged full/ of plastic and car parts." There is a tremendously vivid passage in which the poet captures in cinematic shots the inner wailing of an elephant: "When a companion/ dies, I believe in the rocking back/ and forth, the dry pebble tongue./ I believe in wanting to wear only/ dust, hear only dust, taste only dust." Nezhukumatathil here exploits brilliantly the inherited elegiac connotation carried by the word dust to depict a heart-wrenching mourning scene. Her sensory and dynamic depiction of nature can find some affinities with poems by Mary Oliver.
VERDICT Reading Nezhukumatathil's poems is a practice in keenly observing life's details. The poet writes with a romantic sensibility about a world saturated with a deep sense of loss. Recommended for all poetry readers, especially those interested in ecopoetry.

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