cover image suddenly we

suddenly we

Evie Shockley. Wesleyan Univ., $26 (112p) ISBN 978-0-8195-0023-6

This verbally and visually stirring outing from Shockley (Semiautomatic) offers a rewarding mix of short and long poems, elegies and odes, images, repetitions, and “conversations” with writers and artists. The expansive “we” in this collection is paramount, encompassing a mighty chorus of “I”s. Shockley’s poems are risk-taking and significant as they explore how society’s expectations and suppositions cage individuals into categories that squash individual narratives: “a woman is innocent until proven/ angry. a man is innocent until/ he fits the profile. a child is/ innocent until she sees her mother/ or father in cuffs. can’t unsee.” Within Shockley’s investigation is a lush desire for intimacy and connection—that “we” that is so critical, especially today: “the question is: who was i when we last hugged so close our bones met? where are the coffee spoons of yesteryear? i’ve measured out my life in package deliveries and what’s in bloom... if you can locate my whenabouts on a calendar, come get me. i don’t know where i’m going, but i need a ride.” This collection is a welcome companion for that ride as it celebrates the collective, the “we” that is vital to survival. (Mar.)