cover image A Several World

A Several World

Brian Blanchfield. Nightboat (UPNE, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (106p) ISBN 978-1-937658-17-5

Blanchfield follows 2004's Not Even Then with an impressive collection that walks a tightrope between two traditions. His lithe, rhythmically irreducible free verse seems to champion the beauty of language above all else, as an urgent, thrumming, hypermodern voice wants to chat about life in our disorienting 21st century. "Remember in Corinth, walking home from the piers, wet/ in the aftermath of a squall?" he writes in a poem that begins with a memory of the polis and ends with the admission that "none of the old options applied" while squatting "on the fire escape for better connection." Blanchfield tarries in a zone of listlessness, pausing to note how sprigs of grass are "Sort of Garamond," but his poems' languor is constantly thrown into a striking new light: "the sun/ came out and earmarked the farther/ barrel. None of this reminds me of/ heterosexuality." The book's crescendo is a sequence in which the self is both formed and deformed by authority, time, and alienation, and the very language that composes poetry is bookended and bullied by the voices of those around us. With his complex phrasing, his gentleness and wit, and his commitment to recording the beauty around him, Blanchfield's poetry proves to be a rewarding read. (June)