Count the Waves: Poems

Sandra Beasley. Norton, $15.95 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-0-393-24320-8
The best pages of Beasley’s latest work call back to the ingenuous and whip-smart mix found in her wave-making 2010 collection, I Was the Jukebox. The poet and memoirist (Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl) produces quotable phrases (“You’re always an hour away from where you said you’d be”), mines science for quips (“400 million years in, ammonites wonder what more they can do”), and looks outside the self for graver subjects, as in a scary poem about a subway crash: “If a metro car comes behind another/ and mounts it,// that first squeal sounds/ almost like/ joy.” This third work of poetry might seem more like a transition than triumph: some of the poems are based on a 19th-century collection of phrases, The Traveler’s Vade Mecum, and seem willed and scattered, neither easy nor challenging; no clear emotional arc holds the volume together. Yet there are still many reasons to expect success: most of Beasley’s aphorisms, and most of her sestinas (of which there are six total) end up as strong, as serious, and as much fun as ever, and the ones with the clearest stories also end with the strongest zing: “What a man hungers to love// makes him a bear. What he bears makes him king.” (June)
Reviewed on: 06/15/2015
Release date: 06/01/2015
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 96 pages - 978-0-393-24321-5
Paperback - 96 pages - 978-0-393-35321-1
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