POETRY

Valuing

Univ. of Georgia. (National Poetry). Sept. 2019. 80p. ISBN 9780820355702. pap. $19.95. POETRY
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“I am the conflagration/ of the never-at-home and the never-not-at home that makes you/ part of the history of people” says Kondrich near the beginning of this quietly penetrating, intellectually rewarding new work, a “National Poetry” series selection. Kondrich sees us not as isolate beings but as defined (and ever changed) by our interaction with the world and especially others: as he says in the title poem, “I dreamt I could tell you/ and you would know.” Kondrich is particularly interested in how we arrive at our values and negotiate them—“I choose to love our auspices/ because they brought us here”—and he relentlessly explores our effort to connect, inevitably impeded by walls that can nevertheless be breached. His daring leads to some original observations. Obligation is defined in terms of lapping waves, “the back is the definite article of the body” as we always face outward, and our struggle not for weighty truth but simply to see something of the larger picture here rests on the image of a bell’s founding, the bronze obscuring what we know as it’s poured—but in the end the bell can be lifted.
VERDICT A stunning work with a one-of-a-kind feel, this reflection on the major issues of self and others demands time and thought, but it delivers. Highly recommended.

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