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Poetry Roundup 2015 

Outstanding new books by Hudson Valley poets, reviewed by Lee Gould, Marx Dorrity, Nina Shengold, and Pauline Uchmanowicz.




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PROOF

Karina Borowicz

Codhill Press, 2014, $16

Lyrically precise and spare, Karina Borowicz's poems resonate across time and distance. Her riveting second collection, winner of the 2013 Codhill Poetry Award, opens with the "howls and yips" of unseen coyotes ("The Invisible"), vaults to "Planet Kepler 22B," and returns to Earth where an empathetic painter "drives the horsehair brush / filled with ink / over the blinding tundra of paper" ("Brush and Ink Herd of Horses"). Another brush-wielding persona confesses, "I can't help it my paintbrush / has claws and its fur keeps growing"; other poems contemplate "the dusk-colored breath" of lavender or "Iggy Pop on the Dinah Shore Show." This is a poetry of noticing, bristling with phrases "startling as a second moon." —NS




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EDIBLE FLOWERS

Lucia Cherciu

Main Street Rag, 2015, $14

Sifting through soils and seeds of histories both personal and collective, SUNY Dutchess professor Lucia Cherciu's new book of poems, Edible Flowers, has roots in Soviet-era Romania, where villagers palpate hybrid plums and barter saplings with an acuity that might have impressed Gregor Mendel. Pastoral rhythms are uniquely globalized in terrain darkened by the privations of Nicolae Ceausescu's regime: "Exuberance when everything else is counted, / rationed, geraniums in the mountains...." With a black-clad widow chopping wood or a wedding scarf embroidered for a son who did not marry, Cherciu locates a resonant zone between proverb and vignette. —MD




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MY FEELINGS

Nick Flynn

Graywolf Press, 2015, $16

The gravel in Nick Flynn's voice betrays a methodical way of knowing. His pieced-together, emotion-laced fragments have a tendency to light up phosphorescent and can seem as necessary as proteins in a living body. In his new book, My Feelings, Flynn's homeless, alcoholic father (introduced in his celebrated memoir Another Bullshit Night in Suck City) shows up in "The Day Lou Reed Died": "...I / knew him better than I knew my own / father, which means / through these songs, which means / not at all. They died on the same day..." From the sometime Tivoli resident's "AK-47": "a phone rings in a labyrinth [this is a metaphor for the past]." —MD




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BARELY COMPOSED

Alice Fulton

W. W. Norton & Co, 2015, $25.95

Trademark verbal jujitsu and inventive variations on form bump against "inmates of this late-stage civilization" ("You Own It") in Troy native Alice Fulton's deftly crafted collection. A gyroscope likened to "some android ballerina" abbreviates the evolution of human consciousness ("The Next Big Thing"). Medical neologisms and wordplay indict universal anguish in "Claustophilia" and "After the Angelectomy," while a repeating line in a modified villanelle warns: "only night is watching the night nurse." Further challenging complacency, a festivalgoer imagines former detainees weeping at the sight of children bobbing for apples. Fulton admonishes, "while you're alive there's no time / for minor amazements" ("Wow Moment"). —PU




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LIES OF THE POETS

Leslie Gerber

Post Traumatic Press, 2014, $8

Goat Hill Poet and Woodstock Times music columnist Leslie Gerber published this debut collection at 70, and seems to have spent those decades learning to shuck inessentials. His poems are unfussy, reverberant, full of life as it's lived every day, "dog leash in one hand/ memory in the other." Gerber's ear is attuned to loss ("Don't I try? But things insist / on falling apart, things like / carelessly guided trucks. / Wives' damaged brains. My serenity") yet equally fluent in humor: his chapbook's title poem gleefully needles the pantheon, from "Robert Frost so gripped by rhyme / he had to use it all the time" to Walt Whitman, "as neat as a laundress." —NS




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A'S VISUALITY

Anne Gorrick

BlazeVox Books, 2015, $28


Poetry and art: their "labored exactitudes" are so intimately and appealingly integrated in West Park poet-artist Anne Gorrick's extraordinary fourth collection that they become lovers, their relationship apt (and funny). "He wants to dismantle her fixity...she wanders in his filtering systems....their wedding / a / transfer drawing." Originally conceived as drawings (31 richly colored abstracts are included), these poems focus on process and found language, "words caught in nets." In "Chromatic Sweep: Love Letters to R&F Oilsticks and Encaustics," Gorrick works her text down the page, repeating, varying, branching off as though she is painting word onto page: "Yellow wins / Elbowthin green, soft in heat, green atrophies / It is soft, it is soft, yellowgreen." —LG




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