Cloud of Ink

L.S. Klatt. Univ. of Iowa, $17 trade paper (84p) ISBN 978-1-58729-971-1
Terse, unpredictable, and wonderfully weird, Klatt's second volume shuttles between dreamt visions with animals and skeptical takes on modern sites. At first Klatt's short phrases, with plenty of white space between them, suggest the comic neosurrealism beloved of so many poets these days: "Chickens/ depend on wishbones// and their smelly parts set off alarms/ near Dayton." Comedy mixes with dead-of-night dejection, and Italy shines (though Ohio predominates) in poems whose alienated locales, seen slantwise, dissolve into symbols of life and of death: "Who knows/ what, what// said who, in a great, crow-filled tree." These techniques surprise readers, but also hold the poems together: each has not only oddity but unity (so that they come closer, in the end, to the W.S. Merwin of the 1970s than to almost anyone writing today). One sonnet-sized poem begins "Salmon packed in ice are not swimming, they're saving": it proceeds through its bizarre remarks ("they will flip-flop at the spa") to a solidly sad conclusion about impossible salvation. A poem called "For Lack of a Better Word" becomes a manifesto for the half-concealment that Klatt's poetry demands, and for the harsh emotion that emerges when the same poems are reread. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/21/2011
Release date: 03/01/2011
Genre: Fiction
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