Nightingalelessness

Graham Foust. Flood, $15.95 trade paper (104p) ISBN 978-0-9981695-4-5
In this haunting, meditative collection, poet and translator Foust (Time Down to Mind) further sharpens his focus on the limitations of language as a means of exploring memory and time. He couches his linguistic sleuthings within a broader exploration of mortality that raises the stakes: “A word’s like a body part you almost feel,” he writes. In the title poem, for instance, experience translates into “a flower you can sing when you’re sad” that is “now lost in some fire or fires,” leaving only “the poem or the song that never knows how dead,/ dead or not, you are.” Everyday moments are captured in self-conscious lines that gesture toward, but never fully explicate, broader narratives and harder-to-voice themes. In “Remainders,” this tension—between the abilities of language to define experience and complicate it—is brought into sharp relief; “There’s not much else to do but fall/ or fuss about subjects and objects,” the speaker exclaims, before acknowledging “my having been here is behind/ my having headed that way,/ so why not call me eternity/ with a chance of Thursday.” The collection is imbued with both gravitas and grace, mirroring the anxieties of contemporary existence while also accepting them: “Save for getting home” Foust writes, “our travels are over.” (May)
Reviewed on: 04/16/2018
Release date: 05/01/2018
Genre: Fiction
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