Lauren Shapiro. Cleveland State Univ., $18 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-1-88083-472-5
“How insular, I mean lucky,/ to be sitting/ in the arena, to be outside/ the center,” writes Shapiro (Easy Math) in this careful exploration of the line between participant and observer to trauma. Poems and photographs referencing an unnamed arena event full of fire and cheering spectators anchor the collection, which also lives in the destabilized space around a father’s multiple suicide attempts. Uncertainty over the status of his body spirals outward until all bodies become questionable: “I was six when the body forever/ jumped from a bridge thirty when/ the body tried again and again.” In another poem, she describes a brother “blown into loss like living/ nothing, breathing as if his body/ were just his body.” Shapiro excels at moving between tonal registers, and the collection’s “I” and “you” shift according to each poem’s descriptive, lyrical, or collage mode. The closing lines of “Negative Transfer” enact the moment between an outcome and the present in which it has not yet occurred: “If I keep picking bits of thread/ from the sweater, eventually/ the whole thing will disappear.” In this dark and imaginative collection, Shapiro offers a moving vision of witness and grief. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 11/03/2020
Release date: 10/01/2020
Genre: Poetry
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