Ascension Theory

Christopher Bolin. Univ. of Iowa, $18 trade paper (80p) ISBN 978-1-60938-195-0
Terse, serious evocations of travels and landscapes—most of them in snowy regions—open out into spiritual yearnings, or else hint at harrowing, irrecoverable losses, in Bolin's deft if limited debut. At "stations// in the arctic," "The only names/ are names// of ships"; "Remnants of Ice-shelves" (a title) show "weather-kites/ never reaching the ceiling of the glare," and in a bittersweet love poem called "Anniversary," "after each snowfall, it was as if something had opened the shells,/ in the limestone cliffs." Bolin sometimes presents himself as an explorer, opening up an unfamiliar place—in the Himalayas or in Antigua (tropical sites serve as counterpoint to all that snow). Yet his quests can turn religious, too: "in the absence of the Lord/ the apparitions cried—the shades in hell—the backlit gulls on sails." Readers who seek poems of travel, imagined and real, and poems of ecological alertness, might find a lot to like, and readers who seek the numinous may find themselves in his "practice for presenting oneself to God." Bolin deploys many kinds of free verse, from ultra-short arrangements reminiscent of Larry Eigner to careful mid-length work that follows the line of the eye ("The fence has been shaking/ since the telegraph broke; nicking your legs"), to blocky verse-paragraphs that require smaller-than-normal type. Yet he ends up consistent—almost too consistent—in his sense of what a poem can do. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/26/2013
Release date: 10/01/2013
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 86 pages - 978-1-60938-205-6
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