Something for Everybody

Anselm Berrigan. Wave, $18 trade paper (128p) ISBN 978-1-940696-79-9
In his eighth collection, Berrigan (Notes from Irrelevance) plumbs the depths of his own mind—and occasionally the minds of others—as he flits through impressions, images, and varied linguistic play. New York City is at the heart of the collection, and Berrigan personifies it artfully: “The streets look grey/ nonplussed, post-/ pubescent.” Whether he’s riffing like a jazz musician or clipping like a radio scanning through channels, Berrigan sets a surreal mood appropriate for increasingly apocalyptic and hallucinatory times. Lines, such as “wallowing/ in a mudless parody of eternity’s mist,” possess an oddly intuitive clarity. He addresses readers as “my fellow parenthetical palliative rodeos inner beavises/ tender chicken tenders” and refers to the past as an “older/ continuous present.” Several poems are dedicated to or inspired by poets Berrigan admires, and he also collaborates with his young daughter, Sylvie, notably in “Poem for Los Angeles,” featuring the brilliantly precocious description, “The big statue of the lion over there/ Is mad at the people and thinking/ About RAH!!.” Though the poems can feel whimsical, a lurking darkness occasionally comes to the fore, as in “these/ times infected by a deeper/ meanness than savagery.” Berrigan is always up for an experiment, and his clever and deeply human work soothes as a balm against the irritations of daily life. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/17/2018
Release date: 10/01/2018
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 128 pages - 978-1-940696-78-2
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