Poet, essayist, and dramatist Sleigh (Army Cats) seamlessly and imaginatively weaves together history, mythology, and autobiography to form a collection that feels personal and prophetic. Poems such as “KM4,” which finds the speaker in Somalia after a suicide bombing, question how to translate the trauma of war and explore ways in which the dead stay with us: “the body makes itself known before it becomes unknown.” The long poem “Homage to Basho¯” consists of a series of variations on haibun, with traditional Western forms following the prose blocks instead of haiku. In it Sleigh revisits both Iraq wars through his experience as a reporter, including interactions with a security contractor, a student whose brother was a suicide bomber, and even his own poetry. Although told through the filter of Sleigh’s perspective, these stories present complex accounts challenging both speaker and reader to question the moral lines of war. Some of the collection’s later poems seem superfluous in relation to the emotional gravity of the long poem, though Sleigh never fails to produce beautiful lines: “though just by shutting my eyes I can make the sun fall.” Narrative and wandering, Sleigh’s poems welcome readers ready to venture into the unknown. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/17/2014 Release date: 01/06/2015 Genre: Fiction
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