By the Numbers

James Richardson, Copper Canyon (Consortium, dist.), $16 trade paper (124p) ISBN 978-1-55659-320-9
Richardson is one of the finest poets now writing, and the best contemporary practitioner of the art of aphorism, as this eighth collection of poems and aphorisms will attest. Richardson's aphorisms--of which there are 170 in this book--are nothing short of genius, concise, reflexive, witty, wise, and startlingly true: "Spontaneity takes a few rehearsals," reads one; "Beware of speaking of The Rich as if they were someone else," reads another; "Loving yourself is about as likely as tickling yourself," says a third, and there's much more where these came from. In his poems, Richardson speaks with a world-weary voice that is also at times cautiously optimistic, managing to view the world from intimately personal and omniscient vantage points at the same time. One group of poems tries to take the measure of experience via numbers, letters, and "The stars in order of/ magnitude." Another suite anchored in Greek myths finds new resonance for old stories: "Did a god steal her daughter/ or has she been living all this time in Manhattan...?" Throughout, Richardson's aphoristic powers resurface, yielding stellar lines. Richardson deserves wider recognition, and this book should earn it. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/20/2010
Release date: 00/00/0000
Genre: Fiction
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