Monkeys, Minor Planet, Average Star

Gracie Leavitt. Nightboat (UPNE, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (104p) ISBN 978-1-937658-16-8
Formidable vocabulary and cavalier jumps between subject matter are standard in Leavitt’s debut collection of post-modern pastorals. These are brainy poems where feats of syntactic contortion occur even on the microscopic level: “a new sentence is a sentence/ between two sentences.” Malleable and maximalist, the poems don’t stack up neatly and they require an active and nimble mind to follow along the tactful turns: “Assorodus, demure for once/ you xerox me a starry night/ damp flowers path, the monocrop/ bee-quiet evolves matutinal song/ of agony aunt heart-cracking until/ cold planets, ticking, cease.” Bouncing between abstract elements and tender emotions, Leavitt’s strength stems from her ability to operate simultaneously in different thematic spaces. The book—“born blue the way the sky is blue, refracted, vasoconstricted”—unfolds as a cerebral pastiche where autobiography, clips from other texts (like excerpts from works of R. Buckminster Fuller, or multilateral collaborations with fellow poets), and personal conversations intersect with, quoting Jean-Luc Godard, “20 percent something else I can’t remember.” Leavitt demonstrates an uncanny ability to reveal how “a flower, a proposition, a noise/ can be imagined almost simultaneously.” (June)
Reviewed on: 05/19/2014
Release date: 03/01/2014
Genre: Fiction
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