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Hannah Brooks-Motl. The Song Cave (SPD, dist.), $17.95 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-0-9967786-0-2
Abstract expressionism may be the wheelhouse of Brooks-Motl (The New Years), but in her second collection she adeptly refuses to succumb to opacity or the echo chamber as she strings together delightfully curious and unsettling lines. "Lavender waves away the world today, every power," she writes in "Of Constancy," and later, in the stunning "29 Sonnets of Étienne de La Boétie": "Madame I drafted/ To the heart/ It was twitchy/ ‘In his greenest youth'/ And bled there." Brooks-Motl is capable of ambiguous and collage-like poems whose meanings glisten beyond the reader's reach, but the few poems where she shaves her lines down to two or three words and stacks them with urgency are among the best in the collection (as well as a style readers will hope the poet will pursue further in future work). The same might be said of Brooks-Motl's shortest and most fragmentary poems, in which each monostich is devoted enough white space to allow her talent for rhythmic arrangement and emotional pacing to flourish in small quarters. "I was waving my reed," she writes in "Of the Vanity of Words," "And among the very rabble/ Loving the listening field, really feeling it/ Puking up some oration." Ever open to new interpretations, Brooks-Motl's latest is an exuberant navigation of the hedge maze of the self. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 05/02/2016
Release date: 12/01/2015
Genre: Fiction
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