North of Order

Nicholas Gulig. YesYes (SPD, dist.), $16 trade paper (120p) ISBN 978-1-936919-15-4
With words scattered like seed across the page and slashes signaling breaks in the landscape, Gulig's debut dances on the fault line between ecopoetics and postmodern love as he dredges up harrowing poetry in the tension between the two. The staging of the ambiguous drama in Gulig's poems hearkens less to Jorie Graham than it does to Charles Olson, and one can even hear Gulig's fragments being read over snapshots of the natural world in which they occur: "No one sung/ to me of me except the shore I sung to." Gulig's poems are both elegies to the past—a time in which "we spoke in/ wind"—and emblems that mark that past as definitively over. The heart of this debut is the poet's conviction that he can pinpoint a way of living in the world as it is now, a fact made "harder now that there are centuries// before us." Part of this restorative process is forming new words, such as "burnfield" and "earthwarmed," out of physical and linguistic natural resources, but another aspect is speaking the truth that our emotional and natural landscapes can never, and should never, be static. As Gulig phrases it in his own particular idiom, "here, the ground is where there isn't." (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 08/03/2015
Genre: Fiction
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