Via Negativa

July Westhale. Kore, $16.95 trade paper (84p) ISBN 978-1-888553-92-5
In this stunning work, Westhale (Trailor Trash) interrogates the vocabulary used to speak about desire, the divine, and literature. Presented as a series of linked lyric pieces, the book spans a range of forms, including lyric fragments, single strophes, and prose poems, gracefully unified by an ongoing concern with the damage done by language, as well as its redemptive potential. “I am not a star. I am not a star. I am a mechanical. I mean, her. I mean. Dear god,” she writes in “SAINT AGATHA: PATRON SAINT OF BELL FOUNDERS, WET NURSES, RAPE VICTIMS, BREAST CANCER SURVIVORS, AND SICILY.” With subtlety and skill, Westhale reminds the reader that sensory experience is irrevocably changed once it is relayed in language. The provocative poems are frequently voiced by visionary speakers: “Broken like a double-yolk/ in a skillet, I have found/ vision, o lord, I your weary/ chef coming off the graveyard/ shift.” Here, the poem reads as a corrective gesture, an attempt to restore mystery to our lives through language. Westhale delivers a book full of mystery, beauty, and possibility. (June)
Reviewed on : 05/20/2020
Release date: 03/01/2020
Genre: Poetry
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