Feel Free

Norton. Jul. 2019. 80p. notes. ISBN 9781324002741. $15.95; ebk. ISBN 9781324002758. POETRY
Acclaimed poet Laird (To a Fault) writes poems in which language acts as an exercise of seeing and probing, yearning to shape reality and ideas. The poet extracts his themes by cutting across history and reality. Race, refugees, immigrants, politics, national identity, family, love, and life in the city are all tangled up through richly textured poems. There is no stylistic uniformity in this collection as the poet employs a variety of forms to engage his subjects. In one haunting piece, he lyrically depicts in a lyrical mode a relationship between a father and a son in an everyday descriptive scene but permeated with dread and piercing grief; the cumulative effect is dazzling: “we are going home, waiting/ at the turn of the traffic, when I find/ I have to stop my hand from taking his.” Laird claims the common as the fertile land of poetry spotting gleams in its many layers. He is questioning and investigating the human experience, tirelessly reaching for its pulsed substance. One can see the brilliant usage of the matter-of-fact glints and clichés, which, in most cases, is reminiscent of work by John Ashbery.
VERDICT Laird writes remarkable poems, self-reflective and socially drenched. Those here are rich instances of awakening and discovery. Highly recommended.
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