Rift Zone

Red Hen. Apr. 2020. 112p. ISBN 9781597097765. pap. $16.95.
In her third volume of poems (following Work & Days), NPR online poetry reviewer Taylor examines what it means to live close to the edge, both symbolically and in the real world. Growing up on the Hayward Fault, near El Cerrito, CA, she knows what it’s like to live on the edge, whether she’s surviving the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989 or raising children in a country and a world that seem on the verge of collapsing underfoot: “Below us the crust is molten, is nationless.// We light only our lamps on the rift.” Conversational and sometimes personal, Taylor’s verse always comes across as fresh and lyrical. She includes poems built on fragments that reflect what it might feel like to have the earth shift beneath you—“We are animal/ in the broken ecosystem”—even as she offers readers another look at what’s broken beneath us. Here, readers encounter rampant violence, the “war” at the border, and issues of ecology and equity, and she asks us to consider the large questions and small: “Even in the face// of devastation// we must make art.
VERDICT An important book to consider and savor. [See “Versifying,” LJ 1/20.]

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