The Lumberjack's Dove

Ecco: HarperCollins. Oct. 2018. 114p. ISBN 9780062853677. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062853684. POETRY
What to say about this book-length prose poem by Nethercott (A Ghost of WaterModern Ballads)? A National Poetry Series selection, it brings you into a magpie's narrative of random glimpses, homilies, nonsense, lists, aphorisms, myths, clichés, snatches of history and science, and bits of nightly news. It's also a tightly constructed and vividly told tale that begins: "It's the same old story.// A lumberjack loses his hand to his own axe./ The hand becomes a dove. The hand tries/ to fly away but the lumberjack catches it/ beneath his shoe. You know this story. The/ lumberjack ties one end of a string to the/ hand & the other end to his belt. Then the/ lumberjack walks out of the forest, the/ airborne hand fluttering along behind." Is this poem a meaningful exploration of the art of storytelling as well as a meditation on what it means to be human, as promised on the back cover? Readers must draw their own conclusions.
VERDICT If the widely held notion that more people write poetry than read it is true, it may be difficult for this oddly beautiful and demanding work to find its audience. But adventurous readers will be rewarded.
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