The Trembling Answers

BOA Editions. Apr. 2017. 88p. ISBN 9781942683315. pap. $16. POETRY
Colorado Prize winner Teicher, the poetry editor of the Literary Review, tackles the subjects of parenting, love, and memory in his third collection (after To Keep Love Blurry). The best poems are heartfelt explorations of illness and the strains of caring for a child living with severe cerebral palsy: "I can divide all life/ into breath and waiting/ for the next breath, and/ the calm in the troughs/ between." Time hangs over the work, both the period of his son's and daughter's childhoods and the poet's own upbringing: "Magic ebbs away like time/ ticking into a bucket./ Sometimes it blooms/ momentarily again,/ a sunset or whatever/ draws milk back out/ of the earth." Teicher also ruminates on why he became a poet, how fear influenced him, and whether or not he is an honest writer: "I knew/ I was not safe/ in my head, which was// where I knew my self was." Although many poems resonate with feeling, occasionally the lines fall flat, and mixed metaphors abound. More dissatisfying is Teicher's imprecise language: "Like everywhere else, childhood/ lasted forever, miles and miles/ of time between yearly checkups."
VERDICT A mixed effort, though readers will be drawn to the richly described family life and accessible language. [See Prepub Alert, 10/24/16.]
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