See Me Improving

Travis Nichols, Copper Canyon (Consortium, dist.), $15 trade paper (80p) ISBN 978-1-55659-312-3
This hip and funny second collection of poems from Nichols (Iowa) looks, with a tender heart, mostly at domestic life, occasionally lifting its gaze toward the larger contemporary American scene. Nichols's speaker is, foremost, humbled by circumstances big and small: "All my life I've felt destined/ not for the greatness of my heroes/ but the goodness of their followers." He looks with a kind of gentle admiration on most things, from the local Bruegger's Bagels to the beloved, to whom tribute is paid in the title sequence: "I will buy orange roses for you,/ and you will buy an orange book for me,/ and this evening we will leave them both/ in the cold house with the furry cat,/ so we can have a code orange night." Slight in-jokes like this are sprinkled throughout, though most readers will find these plainspoken, free verse poems friendly and easy to grasp. Fans of poets like Matthew Zapruder will find much to like in this world in which "Poetry is an ovary with an eyeball in it." (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 12/20/2010
Release date: 12/01/2010
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