Oni Buchanan, Author, Mark Doty, Selected by . Univ. of Illinois $17.95 (108p) ISBN 978-0-252-07564-3

In this adventurous mix of taut lyrics, dramatic monologues and free-ranging typographical experiments, Buchanan (What Animal ), who is also a pianist, has an ear for mellifluous runs and beautifully, at times humorously, evoked emotions: “the vast veld, the funnel of black wings/ landing on the rack en masse, a smoothing,/ a soothing of black, the indivisible plumage.” This same musical sensibility, however, can lead the poems into murky, precious territory (“u r so Mesozoic era”). Images of the natural world and scientific language abound in this National Poetry Series–winning second book, selected by Mark Doty. “Dear lonely animal,” begins a typical poem from the series of that name, “I miss you. The other animals/ are looking at porn again./ I will never dress or disrobe.” This voice is clear and direct, a startling contrast to the book’s more coded closing sections, such as “The Mandrake Vehicles,” in which Buchanan’s natural-world preoccupations and fecund music explode into the experimental, fractal territory, à la Jorie Graham and Alice Fulton. There are accompanying notes to the “paper” version of this series, as well as digital version on a multimedia CD included with the book. Both are dazzling displays of textual hijinks and combine to make an interesting foray into hypertextuality. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 09/15/2008
Release date: 09/01/2008
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!