The Place One Is

Omnidawn. Apr. 2022. 64p. ISBN 9781632431035. pap. $17.95. POETRY
In her 12th book of poems (following Silences), the National Book Award longlisted Ronk captures the present moment by juxtaposition, as exemplified in a poem describing the earth now (“a fusion with a wind-shaped tree”) vs. the earth in the future (“by 2050 30% of the inhabitable earth may well be desert.”) She often achieves her effect by breaking the rules of syntax, making her poetry one of run-on sentences, enjambment, dangling modifiers, and lack of punctuation. At times, she uses a sonnet-like pattern, connecting a longer stanza with a shorter one often fashioned from a quote that comments on what went before, adding another layer of metaphor; “Reflection,” for instance, ends with a pithy quote from Henry David Thoreau. In the end, reading these poems is reminiscent of looking into a kaleidoscope until one sees a pattern emerge.
VERDICT Slowly drawing readers into the subject with two or three scenes, Ronk doesn’t stop until all eyes and ears are opened to the narrator’s circumstance. Then, in the best of these poems, she makes the scene universal, taking readers by surprise as she launches into the stratosphere--which, as one can imagine, is breathtaking.
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