Gillian Conoley. Omnidawn (UPNE, dist.), $17.95 trade paper (112p) ISBN 978-1-890650-95-7
Conoley (The Plot Genie) draws on the weight of great historical figures (M.L.K., Thoreau, Gandhi, Emerson, Ruskin, et. al) and the flow and perception of time to build a personal artifact that is political, lyric, and modern: “[A]ll the mixed faces/ looking out or looking in/ the great paintings/ in yard sales and museums/ abstract or representational.../ in the poem the evening is spread out/ like a media.” Here, “[b]eloved figures die/ then stop and loop/ to pixelate,/ a history sweeps and fells the picture field.” Conoley’s acute historical awareness leads to a disconnection of self: “[O]bsolete/ hands reaching but not reached/ and pushing glass away// more room now.” Yet her deep, human concerns highlight an ethics and perspective that is both constantly articulated and continually questioned, reviewed, and revised: “What are we to the man/ who attacked the gunman/ as he started to reload, a constituency?” This articulation takes intelligence and humor—“I didn’t want my eyes to be/ my reality negator”—and what’s more is that Conoley’s politicized language never buries the personal, nor her personality: “[A]t my father’s funeral, a blind field/ the flag taken from over the casket/ folded into a triangle, handed to us/ throughout ‘the reception’/ a boy eyes a pizza slice/ on a white paper plate.” (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/31/2014
Release date: 04/01/2014
Genre: Fiction
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