cover image The Wug Test

The Wug Test

Jennifer Kronovet. Ecco, $15.99 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-0-06-256458-0

Rigorously intellectual and compassionate in its approachability, this second collection from Kronovet (Awayward), a 2015 National Poetry Series winner, employs linguistics research to probe how language makes “the world a glass we fill by speaking.” Kronovet astutely observes how people “use words like a tree uses light:/ there is a process we don’t see but do.” It may go without saying that language shapes experience, and Kronovet’s poems are a vital reminder that the saying is all we have; that “Nothing stays inside the body forever.” There is a fierce and tender optimism in the notion that “a box can be// a word can be a ship can be/ the blank that takes us to each other.” Tenderness is at the core of these poems, and Kronovet turns over each word carefully as only an attentive lover of language can. “We made ourselves through words/ for each other for years. Like trees/ almost make the sky,” she writes, hinting at language’s limitations, yet choosing instead to offer admiration and awe: “This sounds/ much worse than it is. More like/ how the car makes the road./ Or the runner across the field,/ the park—I love him.” Even readers who tend to be skeptical of poetry collections that revolve around a project will be charmed by Kronovet. (Oct.)