Wesleyan Univ. Mar. 2022. 176p. ISBN 9780819580672. $35; pap. ISBN 9780819580689. $16.95. POETRY
“The leaves recede// and the flickering holes between them/ come forward// not angels, but unnamed objects” observes Pulitzer Prize winner Armantrout (Conjure) in her masterly new volume, and it’s those flickerings she captures in lines pared down to essentials we don’t usually take the time to see. Here, Armantrout takes a deep dive into our constant negotiation with the world. “I have a great respect/ for the recalcitrance/ of objects,” she declares while placing experience on the same level; objects are out there and obdurate, more than can be grasped (“if the tree blooms pink/ there will be more// than we can imagine”), while “identity is made of select experiences,” sifted and shifted and used to define who we are. We see similarities (“each pitching frond// the arched neck/ of a horse”), crave contrast (“Clean lines separating/ bounty from its opposite”), connect ideas (“A stream system/ seen from above: tuning fork twig/ in winter forests”), and straddle the “now” and the “not yet”—all the while looking for our place in the world. In the end, what look like aphoristic, cut-crystal fragments of verse are actually reverberant with connection: “By pulsing, bars of music// make as if to reconsider,” and pulsing is a good way to describe these poems.
VERDICT Armantrout at her most thoughtful; highly recommended.
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