Foxes on the Trampoline

Charlotte Boulay. Ecco, $14.99 trade paper (64p) ISBN 978-0-06-230249-6
Boulay’s debut collection artfully negotiates the interplay between the natural and man-made worlds, presenting a lyric speaker searching for an authentic position in her contemporary surroundings. The very human issues of want, lack, and desire litter these nature obsessed pages. “Want is the old fairy tale:/ trying to carry the sea in a sieve,” she writes in “Fleet,” “Losing too is still ours.” Boulay narrowly steers these poems from the pastoral, always mitigating the natural world through the human: a shark attack in John Singleton Copley’s painting, “Watson and the Shark”; “Catching the Praying Mantis” indoors; and reading about moths on a smartphone while simultaneously attracting them in the poem “Reading in Bed.” The poems have a quiet, meandering voice that presses back against anything easy or sensational. “I wish/ I didn’t have to be over or under all the time,/ just whelmed, not false and not true,” she writes in “False Hellebore,” and this is often her effect on the reader. Boulay presents with an extremely even hand, but her questions address the subtle, difficult, and inconclusive elements of everyday life: “What I want is folded up somewhere,/ or buried, or slipped under the sea. I have everything/ else, everything everything. O fox,/ is this joy?” (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/31/2014
Release date: 04/01/2014
Genre: Fiction
Discover what to read next