In his new collection of poetry, Daniel Bouchard responds to our contemporary dystopia with exacting description and incisive criticism. The cognitive dissonance between what we are in daily life and what we know about the history we inhabit in America: this is the matter of this book. It is laid out in such a way that we can see what our minds are made of, and study the problem. Here the rhetoric of new poetry (“Hades faces environmental crises”) is at ease with both beauty and corruption.
From Publishers Weekly
New England land-, sea- and cityscapes draw reinforcement from blue-state frustration and aggression in this smart, energetic, original second collection. Bouchard (Diminutive Revolutions) first surveys coastlines and towns where winter and spring unsettle the citizens: “We have mockingbird/ for neighbor I wonder/ what his rent is.” Soon enough, though, the collection merges its descriptive interests with invective against bad writers and bad world leaders: after September 11, Bouchard says, “Where we trudged along to disaster/ Now we shall sprint.” Bouchard’s mix of slippery forms and obvious anger lands him in heretofore unknown—and clearly productive—territory halfway between Juvenal and James Schuyler, between ancient ideas of poets as stern social critics and newer investigations of language’s roots. Bouchard may be best known for editing the provocative poetry-and-criticism journal The Poker, and his poems do give familiar certainties and worldly powers a poke in the eye. Just as impressive as their intellectual efforts, though, is the dry lyricism that underlies them, in which Bouchard shows us not just what he believes, but why he feels as he does, and why he can’t help it: “I have the poet’s dual instinct to say/ on the one hand it doesn’t matter and/ the other to set everyone straight,” he concludes; “I must have more hands than that.” (June)
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