Rain Check Poems

Aaron Simon. BlazeVox (SPD, dist.), $12 trade paper (60p) ISBN 978-1-60964-216-7
Simon (Senses Himself) tackles ideas of leaving, longing, and missed opportunity as he creates a sense of urgent questioning in his fourth collection. Owing much to the New York School and displaying hints of Romanticism, Simon's poems are replete with moments of wild juxtaposition that let him reinterpret personal scenes with depth and humor. For example, he combines enjambment and anachronism in the title poem: "O Fates! O Body!/ Rude sirens cause a scene." Simon's formal technique is highly conversational and associative, and the poems are notable for their sparse use of punctuation. Through this mechanism, many lines do double duty as they interact with preceding and succeeding lines. This lends itself to a sense of confusion and a feeling of messy in-between-ness; readers are lost in the fog of existence and the poet's reveling in both how simultaneously maddening and liberating it can be. In "Mendocino," the feeling of love amid ancient redwoods and "cloud banks out of Blake" leads to a sensation of being "an ellipsis/ in a long line of ellipses." Despite the seeming insignificance of the self, what is being experienced still feels vital and important. It's a theme that recurs throughout the collection's mostly brief, occasional poems. Simon manages to be earnest and dreamy while still feeling grounded in the immediate material of life. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 03/07/2016
Release date: 08/01/2015
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