The Low Passions

Anders Carlson-Wee. Norton, $26.95 (95p) ISBN 978-0-393-65238-3
The debut from Carlson-Wee (whose poem “How-To” in the Nation was the subject of controversy last year) is restless and searching, taking readers through the truck cabs, living rooms, dumpsters, freight yards, and railways of America’s wide middle, a place where “Each day against all this/ breaking news, another stranger [is] saving you.” With a strong eye for fleshing out character in a few simple lines, Carlson-Wee introduces the reader to pastors, bosses, one crazy cousin in Fargo (poems about whom recur throughout the book as both comic relief and a source of despair), a “father walking into every dream,” and a brother who is a burden, blessing, and companion. Violence pervades the collection, with brothers lashing out against each other both as children and adults. The kindness of strangers and the pride of a hardscrabble ethos are recurring themes, as in the poem “Pride,” in which Carlson-Wee tallies the value of the food for which he’s just dumpster dived while strolling through the store. Readers looking for a dose of Americana will feel like they’re beside Carlson-Wee, catching “a ride from a farmer hauling a trailer/ stacked with hay bales three-high. When he asks me/ where I’m going I say as far as you can take me.” (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 03/13/2019
Release date: 02/19/2019
Genre: Poetry
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