It Shouldn’t Have Been Beautiful

Lia Purpura. Penguin, $18 (86p) ISBN 978-0-14-312690-4
In this striking display of minimalist form and content, Purpura (King Baby) employs small and quiet moments to construct a philosophy that embraces the natural world as well as the ambiguities of language and meaning. This minimalism is evident in repeated expressions of antimaterialism and calls for a simplification of life, as in “Natural Disaster,” which sees the poet offer the optimistic notion that “Maybe being closer/ to nothing/ makes stuff/ not matter so much.” Other poems, such as “Devices,” long for a mythic past in which people relied on the outer and inner worlds for enrichment. Purpura’s mystical wonder produces astutely articulated observations, as in “Loud Walk in Fall”: “There is something else/ noise hurts./ Not just me./ Flinching abounds/ in the open air.” The poet’s continual insistence on duality or even multiplicity of interpretation can be seen in “Storm Targets Midwest,” a headline appearing in a poem that becomes a meditation on volition, as if “the sky chose/ them and not us,” punctuated with the declaration “That’s one way to ride/ the day’s events/ into meaning.” With an eye for detail and a reverential approach to nature providing plenty of stunning imagery, Purpura deftly distills existential issues to their essence and prompts readers to engage in their own contemplations of her themes. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/21/2015
Release date: 09/29/2015
Genre: Fiction
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