Dangerous Household Items

Copper Canyon. Nov. 2018. 128p. ISBN 9781556595479. pap. $16. POETRY
The gift of poetry is showing you how people think—how they build castles in the air—one word at a time. And when someone else lassos a thought that has been so embedded in your own consciousness as to leave no room between you and it, you can only stop and marvel at what language can do in the right hands. Even more so when its imbued with humor and knowing. This is the effect of reading New York Times poetry columnist Orr's first collection, a meditation on everyday life. The 8:07 to New Haven, a child's sandbox, a teacup deserted on a table are all worthy of his attention. As he writes in "Graphology": "If light/ Shines on nothing, it shines nonetheless,/ And argues that how we see is how we think,/ And how we think is who we are. That's clear/ As the world at the height of afternoon,/ Or the words I've written on this notepad,/ The words we could send to a man tomorrow,/ Who would claim to find my truest meaning/ in the way I dot my I's and cross my t's."
VERDICT With wry and gentle precision, Orr bats poems out of the air that are deep and affecting.
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