A Poem for Record Keepers

Ali Power. Argos (SPD, dist.), $15 trade paper (80p) ISBN 978-1-938247-25-5
In a debut that belies its slim size, Power culls the messy crevices of the poet’s mind to put heavy-hitting snapshots of the self on display: “We are irregular patches of dust./ Phosphorescent swarms of ellipses in the afternoon.” Power systematizes her process, arranging numbered poems of seven lines each in groups of seven across seven sections. The structure suggests the diary or datebook, and the poems manifest with the nonlinearity of thoughts scrawled in such freeform spaces. In Section IV, each poem ends with the phrase, “Let’s hang out,” blurring the line between everyday selves that do “hang out” with friends and the selves that sit in silence, reading poems. Power’s greatest skills are her juxtaposition and balance. She has a keen sense for when to write of simplicity, with aloofness about the world—“There is pinecone./ There is trampoline./ There is olive oil”—and when to hit readers with her deeper philosophies. “A heart isn’t something you just have,” she writes. These invitations and addresses to the reader make her work particularly evocative. Simple questions linger on: “You contain, you know./ Do you know?” Some poets dwell in worlds of imagination and grandeur, but Power’s words reside in more intimate places, where the colloquial lights sparks within the mundane. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/18/2016
Release date: 05/01/2016
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