The After Party: Poems

Jana Prikryl. Crown/Duggan, $15 trade paper (112p) ISBN 978-1-101-90623-1
In her astute debut, Prikryl speaks confidently of and from the in-between places of the world and the people almost relegated to scenery in memories. Throughout the book, the idea of narrative’s assertiveness becomes a driving force. Prikryl asks, “If I say this in the tone of a photograph/ will it inject you with the feeling/ I felt in that place?” The collection’s first half offers glimpses into the temporary, replete with scenes of immigration, intergenerational relations, and waiting for others. The series that makes up the book’s second half helps contextualize the first. These poems revolve around nearly forgotten islands of “pink-complexioned rock” that “defy photographers,” celebrating the idea of a place that “had its uses/ at one time, its maneuvers” but even now, when observed, requires a kind of “wringing concentration.” One of the section’s narrators, Mr. Dialect, is part retired dandy, part Greek chorus. He watches from his houseboat, Never Better, with “His very mood/ an index/ of gestures that the artist/ oversteps.” As Prikryl probes the shortcomings of being conscious of the nature of observing, she maintains a lively tension and gets her readers to ponder as well: “What we are most/ easily seduced by must/ tell us something/ about ourselves, but what/ if it tells us only about everyone else?” (July)
Reviewed on: 06/20/2016
Release date: 06/21/2016
Genre: Fiction
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