The Refusal of Suitors

Ryo Yamaguchi. Noemi (SPD, dist.), $15 trade paper (98p) ISBN 978-1-934819-41-8
Searching for precision in a poetic landscape, Yamaguchi's debut collection displays a cerebral poetics steeped in a dualism of the urban ("I jumped your turnstiles// and married myself to your multiple darks") and the idyllic ("a garden soaked/ in yeses").The poems alternate between short, taut blocks and spacious, long-lined reflections. Yamaguchi's principal preoccupation is naming and calculating; the solving of equations serves as an antidote to the shiftlessness that permeates the atmosphere. He also shows flashes of stark, alluring imagery, particularly concerning the weather and its whims, a common theme: "A dumb monstrosity// of cumulus clouds churned hard in the gap between skyscrapers." Moments of successful world organizing—"I found myself only after having asked, the asking/ so compulsive, everywhere"—dissolve into self-conscious admission: "I was stupid for pattern." In one version of the title poem, of which there are several, Yamaguchi perfectly captures the friction between that which can and cannot be measured or contained. "Consider the universe as an object,// something that can always be got at// with the right instruments," he writes, "I am waiting for you like I wait// for an emergency." Yamaguchi's collection can be difficult to enter at first, but readers who allow it to breathe will find much to savor. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 09/07/2015
Release date: 04/01/2015
Genre: Fiction
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