Dialogues with Rising Tides

Kelli Russell Agodon. Copper Canyon, $16 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-1-55659-615-5
In her piercing fourth collection, Agodon (Hourglass Museum) explores intertwined anxieties—a family history of mental illness, looming environmental collapse, the inadequacies of love—with care and understated humor. In “Unsustainable,” she addresses a lover with foreboding and whimsy: “I want to keep you in my plastic/ Happy Meal heart, but what snaps open// stays on Earth forever, my center floating/ down a canal until it’s swallowed by a seal.” She vacillates between exploring family trauma and moments of genuine joy: “how once/ in Mexico, after I lost my wedding ring,/ I did a body shot off a woman/ I didn’t know and how sticky she was/ and how the tequila made the night a little quieter/ and the stars made the beach feel like a church.” Agodon has a talent for arresting titles. In “Magpies Recognize Themselves in the Mirror,” bystanders at a mall watch with understanding as a woman experiences a mental health crisis: “And like that/ we were her flock in our black coats/ and white sweaters, some of us reaching our/ wings to her and some of us flying away.” Despite the tragedies at the center of this book, Agodon captures the universality of dark emotions and offers a collection full of hope. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 05/03/2021
Release date: 04/01/2021
Genre: Poetry
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