Real Life: An Installation

Omnidawn. Oct. 2018. 232p. ISBN 9781632430571. $17.95. POETRY
Art installations dramatically enfold us, conveying a heightened sense of our world, but what if life itself were viewed as one large installation? Carr (100 Notes on Violence) here blends statistics ("in 2013, 1 out of every 30 children in America is without a home"), social commentary ("The candidate does not believe in contraception because he does not believe in sex without procreation (for women anyway")), lists (often 14-line poems with numbered lines), fairy tales (the witches are nowhere near as scary as the politicians), snatches of ordinary life ("In real life it takes a long time to remember what month it is"), and, of course, envisioned installations ("No door through which to enter, no door through which to leave"). All of this yields, as one poem is titled, "The Lived Experience of Social Power"—and in fact experience in general. Reading this book feels like living and breathing the life we live and breathe, and Carr manages to make it all compulsively readable.
VERDICT Sharp social and political observation from a poet who does it right.

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