Otherwise Elsewhere

David Rivard, Author
David Rivard, Graywolf, $15 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-1-55597-573-9
Reviewed on: 12/20/2010
Release date: 12/01/2010
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The signature poem in this exuberant fifth book from Rivard (Sugartown) announces "a plural happiness—I feel encouraged for all/ within range." In his fast-paced, irregular, and superbly assembled free verse, in effusions and snapshots, hot pursuits of teen memories and spiky commitments to adult life, Rivard makes joy and satisfaction aesthetically interesting. He illustrates them with scenes from family life (his partner, Michaela, and daughter, Simone, appear again and again, by name), counterweights them with serious regrets, and flaunts his delight in over-the-top similes: "Like a bit of shoelace snapped-off/ and tied back on by tight knot, frayed/ each of us lives attached/ to the ridiculousness of suffering." Boston resident Rivard sounds always urbane, unmistakably American: "the whole city seems to lift then out of a footprint,/ all of it timed impeccably/ for a break in the clouds—swinging blue sky, open door." Rivard's jazzy line breaks and as-if-improvised textures might recall August Kleinzahler, or Hayden Carruth, but his attitudes, and his rapid pace, are his own: "every swollen little/ fleabite & every helium-filled balloon, every/ dining car & bright hothouse" suggests to him that "happiness is still there." (Dec.)
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