House of Water

Matthew Nienow. Alice James (Consortium, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (100p) ISBN 978-1-938584-64-0
In his debut collection, Nienow, a boat maker and 2013 Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship recipient, navigates the existential void between disappointment and determination as he documents the construction of a boat. A new father, Nienow finds his fortunes fluctuating in “the days of one step forward, four steps back.” Building something requires an array of tools, a hunger to create, and an unending wellspring of patience, because everything will be “erased at least once, every line redrawn.” To that end, Nienow echoes Robert Pinsky’s “want bone” with his “making-bone,” a chisel that “asks to be put to task.” The metaphorical space of the poems becomes clear in the “work of nails and arcs/ from which the boat rises.” It’s also there in moments of adversity, as when the boat springs a leak and “everything has been pushed to the middle of the room/ like a raft of upholstery in a pond of wood.” These poems are meant to be read aloud; Nienow’s lyrics fit together with watertight precision as he praises labor and the act of trudging through when disaster strikes: “That it works makes me want to work. The work, it carves that want away.” (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/19/2016
Release date: 10/01/2016
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 100 pages - 978-1-938584-69-5
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