cover image The Rose of January

The Rose of January

Geoffrey Nutter. Wave (Consortium, dist.), $16 trade paper (144) ISBN 978-1-933517-69-8

Real places, real problems, and real poems from the literary past blur and fade into brightly imaginary ones in this big, sometimes meandering, but often delightful fourth collection from Nutter (Christopher Sunset). Dreaming, the poet ambles “past the ruined buildings/ and chain-link fencing/ to the Avenue of the Hyacinth/ of Waters and your childhood/ home, or a house/ that looks much like it”; in “Prelude to What Comes Next,” “Condensation builds up on the windows,” while “you’ve inscribed the Ramayana on a tetrahedron/ about the size of a dreidel.” Nutter’s light touch can conceal a bitter self-mockery, a sense that the whole project of poetry might not be worth taking seriously any more, as in “The Lackadaisical Poets” or the poem that starts, “I love to see how other people/ have solved the problems of poetry.” On the other hand, Nutter emulates and responds to and nearly quotes, over and over, Wallace Stevens, who took the problems of poetry and imagination seriously indeed. Nutter’s new volume ends up at once whimsical and tragic, a rich set of hues and a series of shadowy corners, whose allusive poems become places in which we hope to get lost. (June)