How to Dance as the Roof Caves In

Nick Lantz. Graywolf (FSG, dist.), $15 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-1-55597-670-5
This satirical and darkly comic third collection from Lantz (We Don’t Know We Don’t Know) explores a failed relationship in the midst of the housing bubble—a loss of home on multiple levels, “the plums rotting where they fell.” Lantz doesn’t obfuscate; urgently employing direct expression, his poems “[l]et the path of a bird circling/ a field describe the dome.” “To be seen, that was the important thing,” he announces in the first section of “How to Stage a Community,” a lengthy sequence in which a real estate company casts extras as faux-residents of a barren housing development. This absurd scenario questions ideas of ownership and husbandry in 21st-century America: “You live here, he says, but you do not live here./ The lawn is your lawn, but it is not your lawn.” Lantz searches for something beyond the superficial, aware that “a crater filled with a beautiful lake/ is still a crater.” He concludes with “Ways of Beginning,” perhaps a prescription for starting anew in the aftermath of prolonged recession. Amidst the hilariously damning portrayal of American life, hope prevails for those that listen: “you must pour all your sweetest honey/ into a shallow bowl and then,/ without hesitating,/ dip your finger into it.” (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/24/2014
Release date: 03/04/2014
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