Copper Canyon. Nov. 2017. 120p. ISBN 9781556595172. pap. $16. POETRY
In line with Brimhall's previous book, Our Lady of the Ruins, this latest collection is a generational fugue fixated on ecclesiastical imagery and the backward tracing of the folklore of a family that persisted through the historical shifts of a Brazilian plantation community. One is readily and repeatedly reminded of Gabriel García Márquez's magical realism in Love in the Time of Cholera. In this loose novel-in-verse, each section centers on an individual from the family and acts as a movement, symphonic in mode and scope, exploring loss and the eroticism of the sacred. Each example of loss entails feverish ecstasy, an expectation for and suspicion of miracles. The most successful poems are a chorus series featuring various Marias in which Brimhall's lyricism is honed to its sharpest point. The chorus poems act as a backbone woven through the individually centered sections when the thread between those sections gets, occasionally, lost to miasmic religious image. These poems are a mirage, magical, and never quite fully forming into the story of water.
VERDICT Some may crave back matter for context, but Brimhall's work is an unexpected and refreshing, though not essential, addition to contemporary poetry collections.
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