Ordinary Sun

Matthew Henriksen. Black Ocean (SPD, dist.), $14.95 trade paper (120p) ISBN 978-0-9844752-2-3
Henriksen's debut is one of the most striking collections from a small press this year. Just look at some of these lines: "Her axe made flowers open," "What I cannot find in the morning is most myself," "Those were the screams/ of our happiness you mistook." Like Frank Stanford before him, Henriksen's project is one of building a mythology around the self in which the walls that separate speaker and poet break down. As seen in the lines above, Henriksen forges an individual poetics using a voice that seeks to define the world around it with highly lyrical, demanding—and rewarding—language. "Far from the field/ the sung sang out," he writes, "a bucket of tallow/ yellow pallor—/ light aging in a glass." The pacing of these poems, the tautness with which they are rhythmically and rhetorically wound, is often such that a line will resolve or reveal itself just in time for Henriksen to depart from it in another, no less arresting, direction. Nowhere is this more realized than in the book's seventh, and best, sequence, "The New Surrealism," when Henriksen leaves us with perhaps his most beautiful and halting lines: "and God continues snoring/ in the wound round us and will until when to be is as was." (May)
Reviewed on: 05/16/2011
Release date: 02/01/2011
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