Desolation: Souvenir

Paul Hoover. Omnidawn (IPG, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-1-890650-58-2
This new collection by the stalwart experimental poet and editor of the Postmodern American Poetry: A Norton Anthology is divided into two sections. In the first, a long series of poems in three stanzas borrows, sometimes, the tones and devices of what might be called “wisdom poetry” to posit with great authority what feels like nothing less than glimpses of nature’s truths and flashes of spiritual wisdom told slant: “an icicle in the sun/ is just enough for grace/ what can’t be seen/ can still be heard”; “being is an infant/ life’s the first encore/ for the last thing/ we remember”; “what are the laws of man/ from the viewpoint/ of a leopard.” As the poems accrue, one realizes there’s as much pleasure in noticing how this oracular voice makes wisdom of whatever it describes as there is in parsing its many sayings. The book’s second part is a single long poem made of sentences that drift along a wandering course of thought; the poem wonders and asserts and tests, hinting at the authority of the earlier sequence, but tempered by doubt: “To know an object, you have to know its future.// Many objects were in our mouths as children.// They tasted square or round, hard or soft.// We were seeing with our mouths.” Through these many lines, Hoover illustrates his notion that “[t]o be beside yourself is to be fully conscious.” (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/23/2012
Release date: 04/01/2012
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