Poetry, geography, ornithology, and history. Daniel Bouchard is the captain of them all. Here is a poet who has found his place in the topography of a sprawling world. His navigations are a pleasure to behold.
Daniel Bouchard’s book is wonderful. A pure and absolute democracy of insight.
From Publishers Weekly
If in conventional lyric the lift and flutter of poetic language is a manifestation of spirit, Boston-based poet Bouchard here works toward spirit’s plainspoken redefinition as a product of a social, biological and economic processes. “A Private History of Books” describes the ways in even most radical rare volumes come to have outrageous prices (and the ways intellectuals are complicit in naming them), while “Repetitive Strain” invokes history as hazardous job site, “the subjective, selective, forgetful past/ drained of its sappy romantic aspect.” Birds–those lyric creatures–abound in the poems, but rather than being symbols of freedom, they are here revolutionaries in miniature, “go[ing] at it with beaks of needle-nose pliers/ shrieking and tearing at pizza through tight saran.” This mordant view of civilization’s micro-climates is worked through most impressively in “Wrackline,” the long opening poem which grounds its materialism in painstaking social documentary. Part elegy, part environmental study, this record of a season on the back of a garbage truck negotiates the psychic boundary between a world of nature ever in renewal and a human world ever in decay: “In a formal picture/ Ed stands with friends in a white suit./ Depleted plutonium becomes a military/ recycling success. I like the sober statements/ of age and matrimony/ engraved under angelic skulls/ on the old slate tombstones of colonial villages./ Heatwince beside idling truck/ as its vapors pass over skin.” Experimental writing often eschews the power of direct statement in favor of verbal pyrotechnics whose meaning is in the doing, not the saying. This debut volume is much more prosaic, but powerfully so. (Apr.)
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