All of Us

Elisabeth Frost, White Pine (Consortium, dist.), $16 trade paper (76p) ISBN 978-1-935210-23-8
The persistence of bad dreams, the meaning of illness, the acquaintances and the distractions of apartment life ("the stairs in the walk-up ringing"), erotic attachment and filial attention energize the elegant poems, mostly in prose paragraphs, of this debut. Frost already has some reputation as a critic of difficult poetry, but those who expect provocative, frame-breaking poems will not get them. Mostly, Frost's work is more straightforward. Her people view the ordinary life course—birth, growth, health; parenthood, illness, death—with a tenacious combination of fear and devotion. A grandmother holds her first grandchild "as if she had always known how," and a "tall man in his sixties" recovers almost completely from amnesia: "He remembered everything except how he had gotten to where he was after boarding the train. It hardly mattered, now his life was back." One couple tries to decide whether to have children, whether to devote their lives "to the well-being of another, unformed and vaguely like oneself." Another couple watches a medical show together and then decide "They ought to watch less TV. It seems too much to hope for, health, now that they've seen it up close." (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/17/2011
Release date: 04/01/2011
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