The Life

Penguin. Apr. 2021. 112p. ISBN 9780143136019. pap. $18. POETRY
In her third collection, poet/novelist Fountain (Instant Winner) delves deeply into the everyday, probing subjects such as parenting, religion, writing, and marriage, and making them new. Often, she celebrates contradictions—“I want to know / what is holy—I do. But first I want / the rat to die. I am thirsty for that / death and will drink deeply of that / victory.” Sometimes the results are overly long, even talky, and the poems can be marred by a stretched metaphor or ill-chosen word (a “lawn mower’s insipid / giggle”). But when she uses good images, Fountain pulls us into her world: “Meanwhile / the sheets hold their // famous crumple, / their human scent.” The shortest poem in the collection, “To White Noise,” is deft, funny, and incredibly well described, with not a word wasted (“O my personal ocean, O un- / broken shush of mortality”), and many of the poems shift delightfully, as when the speaker describes the place before this one as “the space my babies came from, were / pulled from wailing.”
VERDICT An interesting, mostly well-written collection that rewards readers with small epiphanies, especially about family life (“his body emitting // that constant low heat of the still-growing”).
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