Midwood: Poems

Norton. Aug. 2022. 144p. ISBN 9781324035213. $26.95. POETRY
Currently executive editor of the New York Review of Books, Guggenheim fellow Prikryl offers a distinctive voice and worldview in her third book (following No Matter). In the tradition of Emily Dickinson, the best poems depict the world at a slant (“Out of the garment/ of the land— trees and their upholstery”), and poems about love, travel, childhood, and nature abound, with a series of poems each titled “The Noncello” focusing mainly on a river in Italy. A longer string of poems provides continuity to the collection in its celebration of forests, but too many of these poems end flatly (“They’re good at being trees”). Throughout, occasional run-on phrases interrupt the general flow, and some metaphors draw attention to themselves with their odd connections (or lack thereof): “Wood-paneled basement like the inside of a tree for delinquent dads.”
VERDICT The mostly short poems featured here often exhibit lively, inviting language, but too many of the poems focus on description, leaving readers hungry for more narrative, more emotion, or the zinging of Prikryl’s best poems. Recommended for larger public libraries and some university collections.
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