The Fears

Copper Canyon. Oct. 2023. 96p. ISBN 9781556596643. pap. $17. POETRY
Prufer (The Art of Fiction) writes free-verse poems about the fear of death—his own and that seen in the dying of friends and family members as well as historical figures. Some, like “A Dog Barking into the Night,” fuse the personal and the historical while holding both together by the stark image of the title. As Prufer muses on the death of his father and the death of the Greek heroine Antigone, his thoughts reflect on each other. These poems are infused with irony as they embrace simple words, parallelism, and engaging line breaks. Each achieves its effect with one striking image that seems to hold the poem together while letting it open out and gather meaning. Take “Ars Poetica,” in which Prufer writes about what happens to the brain as the poet composes his work while hearing the silence of, say, the window that glows “beyond that line of trees.” The title poem, “The Fears,” is one of the best here; it describes the process of writing a poem, noting the places where “the poems sometimes failed to hold together,” as Prufer works on a poem that turns out to be this poem.
VERDICT This evocative book is recommended for all libraries.
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