To 2040

Copper Canyon. Apr. 2023. 80p. ISBN 9781556596773. $25. POETRY
Pulitzer Prize winner Graham’s 15th collection is perhaps her finest and most profound work yet, revealing such astonishing individuality in the idiosyncratic, elliptical style she has perfected over more than 40 years that fellow poets may feel tempted to throw up their hands in despair. This is a poetry of passionate intensity and conviction that reverberates with an astonishing and almost spiritual transcendence. She asks in the first poem, “How do I/ find sufficient// ignorance. How do I// not summarize/ anything,” and that question may be the key to her entire corpus: How do we find sufficient ignorance to see the world not as we expect it but as it truly is? Graham’s very style demands that we summon up such ignorance, that we approach her broken lines and fragmented ideas with a kind of intellectual innocence, allowing the poem itself to teach us how to read it. Since the death of A.R. Ammons, no U.S. poet has demanded so much of her reader or offered so rich and mysterious a reward. Here we are reminded not of Eliot or Yeats but of Habakkuk, Hosea, and especially that voice from the end of Job that cries out, “Gird up your loins man, and I will question you….”
VERDICT A masterpiece that belongs in every library where poetry is found.
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