Harm

Hillary Gravendyk. Omnidawn (PGW, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-1-890650-56-8
Most of Gravendyk’s brief and evocative poems concern her recovery from major surgery: most of those achieve formal variety, emotional clarity (pain, fear, gratitude), and a jeweled fragmentation of phrasing. The title poem, for example, concludes its block of compact prose with “Machines, that flashing support, a threaded needle, and the body, sutured to harm.” In the corrosive one-line stanzas of “Depth Sounding,” Gravendyk recalls “In the throat, a rising panic// sour, steady as an intravenous stream// of dandelions... The pupil a smooth black pill.” Gravendyk avoids monotony by keeping things brief, relying on hints and metaphors, and changing up her compact forms. She also moves outside the realm of hospitals and bedrooms, bodies and machines, into roots, branches and forests, “ghost orchard & firepit” and the hives of bees, in pages (some entitled “Botanica”) that circle back to give her additional, useful figures for her own dilemmas: “Little hive buried in the chest, little warm/ I know perfectly well what you mean.” Like Matthea Harvey, Gravendyk wields an advanced, sometimes challenging style, and yet encourages readers to find, within it, stories about her life. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/16/2012
Release date: 04/01/2012
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!
MORE BOOKS YOU'D LIKE
X