Eric Ekstrand. Omnidawn (UPNE, dist.), $17.95 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-1-63243-003-8
Ekstrand's debut collection is a slow burn in which poems dance around the idea of apocalypse, both literally and metaphorically, as they build on what has come before and provide a grounding for what comes next. Each line enters "as inexactly as anxieties" while also presenting a strange sort of clinical exactness that is almost textbook-like in nature. Ekstrand will present a moment or image then shift the lens a fraction to show the side the reader can't quite see. Ultimately one finds a refusal of metaphor—a forest is "exactly how I expect/ a bamboo forest to look"—with tension aggregating from images being picked apart so delicately, always with an awareness that metaphor could exist. The second half of the book delves into a time/place motif that touches on race relations in North Carolina pre-WWII. These poems seem out of place, even unfinished, contributing to a sense that the tension of the first half expends itself and drifts to the final page. While Ekstrand is similar to Frank O'Hara in tone and plainspokenness, there is a decided lack of conversational approach. At times the works read like dictionary entries; they're academic and dry, and while there is beauty in the details of a moment, those details have to be plucked to life. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 05/04/2015
Release date: 04/01/2015
Genre: Fiction
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