Randomly Moving Particles

Andrew Motion. Univ. of Pittsburgh, $17 trade paper (120p) ISBN 978-0-8229-6655-5
Former U.K. poet laureate Motion (Public Property) explores the subjects of migration, memory, and political landscape in this stirring collection. At the book’s center, three compact poems attend to the fragility of species, giving lyrical voice to “the reliable green silence” of grasses and the history of rain. The first of two long narrative sequences is a personal reckoning with the culture and politics of the United States, the poet’s adopted home since 2015. Whitman’s influence is unmistakable: “Because I am dredging memory and glad to./ Because I respond to the gravitational pull/ (chewing my fingernails admittedly, asking/ have I eaten my own body weight.” An ambitious persona poem closes the book, recounting the story of Major H, who returns to Essex after a tour of duty in Afghanistan with the 7th Armoured Division. Like his heroic forebears of Greek and Roman epic, Major H journeys to the underworld and encounters ghosts, returning “Like a hero covered in dirt/ who supports the weight of the globe.” Readers may find the veteran’s violent homecoming is more Capote than Virgil, but Motion offers an ambitious and engaging inquiry into mortality, politics, and place. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 04/05/2021
Release date: 03/01/2021
Genre: Poetry
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