Victoria Chang’s collection, Obit, seems to have anticipated the prolonged good-byes of 2020. In it, Chang says good-bye to loved ones, feelings, objects—everything we feel and know, who we were and where we’re heading—especially when someone we love is dying, and our sense of awareness is heightened.
This stunning book-length poem, broken up into 103 sections, examines the grief and trauma associated with losing a young sister from suicide. Threaded also through these lyrics is a conversation with Paul Celan’s Selected Poems and Dante’s Inferno.
The table we ate at is bare. Hours ago our fast broken / sunset & cannon-strike with apricot paste & Kingdom dates.
Body broken into. All the sweetness / out. Brightly dyed paper flakes / linger in the grass as if someone has / down the sun. The husk of
The night before Elsa left, she and her husband, Landon, discussed the difference between azure and powder blue. Decisions had to be finalized before she left to do archaeological field work in Italy: shaker style or beadboard cabinets, solid surface or subway tile countertop.
So many of my adult friends / have filed complaints against their fathers, / thick dossiers residing inside heavy metal cabinets / marked D for disappointment—
A girl walks into a diner but she wishes it was a bar. A girl walks into a diner for breakfast. A blinking red light in the window says “Eat Good Food.”
This is a tough book to review, because it takes a disparaging tone from the get-go towards the traditional ways people try to identify with narratives and interpret them. After quoting an agent who wrote to Elizabeth Ellen that they couldn’t determine the collection’s stakes, the dust jacket adds, “Saul Stories, in the spirit of films such as Gummo and Trash Humpers, has no obvious stakes.”
Some mornings at my office in Midtown, / post-9/11, shopping bags appeared / on my desk. In them, four-inch Louboutins, / a vintage bomber, Japanese stationary,
David Lehman’s new book, Poems in the Manner Of … is a waltz through the history of poetry and a self-portrait in the fun house mirrors of style. “In the manner of” here means sound-alikes, inspired-bys, collages, fresh translations, and other deep visits with a poet, or a poetic age.