Sarabande. Jun. 2021. 120p. ISBN 9781946448781. pap. $15.95. POETRY
In a brief essay called “Why I Write,” Ossip (The Do-Over) suggests that writing poetry “[is] an intense mode of paying attention via (marvelous, delicious) words.” If this fourth collection of poetry shows nothing else, it confirms Ossip’s feel for words and their denotative and connotative meanings. Most of these poems are made from words cleverly arranged around an everyday event, as in the title poem, “July,” recorded as daily entries about a road trip from Minnesota to Florida that the poet took with her daughter. Ossip’s lines are suffused with repetition, and the best poems build to a paradoxical statement that takes the poem out to the reader. “Chayote,” one of the best, is a shaped poem that consists of a history, description, and definition of the gourd; as the lines build, Ossip extends her discussion to people (“Like all fruits of the earth including ourselves, chayote / is the subject of legends and myths, probably false”), thereby creating a metaphor to encompass both plants and humans. The poem ends in paradox: “but the truth / like any shape we try to make, / is always, always strange.”
VERDICT Figurative language, especially alliteration, repetition, and metaphor, races through these pages like the balls in a pinball machine, gathering energy and grace. For a wide range of readers.
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