Penguin Bks. (Poets). Mar. 2023.. 112p. ISBN 9780143137375. pap. $20. POETRY
“Let’s explore what words cannot” proclaims National Book Award finalist Lauterbach (Or To Begin Again) in her 17th volume of poetry, as she continues to make a scramble out of readers’ desire to make sense of the world as reflected in her richly reflective verse. As always, her poems are linguistically intricate, here exploring the idea of a door as an entrance, as an exit, as a midpoint at which to reside: “There is nothing behind the door; there is only/ door, a condition, a prospect, a/ perception” she says in a cool, provocative analysis of human experience. In her long poem “Nights in the Asyntactical World,” she makes liberal use of kenning, a compound expression from the Old English and Old Norse, where two or three words might substitute for another whole (for example, ring bearer might substitute for king). At the center of these poems is language itself, the best tool for understanding yet slippery and out of reach: “Words don’t care about your or the/ news. Words are indifferent to how you are feeling about/ your feelings…. Words congregate among themselves.”
VERDICT Challenging reading for those who don’t know her work, but a welcome volume for those who do.
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