Northerners

Seth Abramson. New Issues (SPD, dist.), $15 trade paper (72p) ISBN 978-1-930974-96-4
This book will get a lot of well-deserved attention. A former public defender in New Hampshire and now a graduate student in Wisconsin, Abramson has picked up a very large following as a blogger and commentator, covering poetry, politics, and higher education, and generating a controversial, U.S. News–style ranking of graduate programs in writing. After all that, what's left for the poetry? Plenty: serious and ambitious, full of torqued proverbs and hard-to-follow advice, Abramson's own work shows a poet uncommonly interested in general statements, in hard questions, and harder answers, about how to live: "Everyone knows what not to do/ in a dream," he warns, "and in a dream everyone has the heart/ to tell you who you are." Waking life, he implies, turns out harsher, and stranger. Abramson's work as an attorney impinges on several memorable poems: "the worst/ is meeting those people you know/ you can do nothing for." American regions—the Upper Midwest, Boston, northern New England—also draw attention, and sometimes ire. Ultimately, though, Abramson's taut phrases show a personality, sometimes welcoming, and sometimes grimacing, at a tough, lovely, often inhospitable world: "It is not too early for us// to turn our backs on the track," he advises, before announcing "YES—// there is no secret self—/ but still/ I follow it everywhere." (May)
Reviewed on: 05/16/2011
Release date: 00/00/0000
Hardcover - 64 pages - 978-0-932826-77-0
Paperback - 72 pages - 978-0-932826-78-7
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