The Trees The Trees

Heather Christle. Octopus (SPD, dist.), $12 trade paper (66p) ISBN 978-0-9801938-7-9
In her quirky second outing Christle writes short blocks of prose without punctuation, phrases separated by white space, so that we seem to be reading verse and prose at once, delivered with a rapt attention somewhere between the later W. S. Merwin and James Schuyler. (PW, alas, cannot accurately reproduce those spaces.) Once used to the form, a reader can see what's inside: often, a delightful, absurd character. "I am a handbag I am the kind of handbag nobody weeps into," says one. Christle's metamorphic personae let us work to figure out lives unlike ours: in one poem, she says she is "trying to understand a house from the nailgun's perspective." But the poems grow sad as they look back, and they say why: "the world was different because it looked different and it still likes us but we don't like it back." "Spring Poem for Harpo" situates Christle in a comic tradition that extends outside poetry, into ancient epigram and modern film comedy: "if we did not have skin," Christle says to or for Harpo Marx, "we would not have gladness... the sun will one day grow so glad it will destroy us." Christle has made an ingenious debut. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/25/2011
Release date: 07/01/2011
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