cover image How He Loved Them

How He Loved Them

Kevin Prufer. Four Way, $15.95 trade paper (72p) ISBN 978-1-945588-09-9

Prufer (Churches) considers the complex relationship between beauty and violence in his remarkable seventh collection of poetry, tracing the barely perceptible ways that industrial modernity “gilds us until we glitter.” The volume, consisting largely of individual lyric pieces, is gracefully unified by the poet’s willingness to inhabit the interstitial space between wonder and fear. “The moon is a hole/ in somebody’s skull,” Prufer writes, presenting readers with imagery as ominous as it is alluring, and in language that’s simultaneously stark and lyrical. As the collection unfolds, Prufer’s performative style reads as a deft commentary on the ethical concerns around which the poems orbit, largely the dangers and possibilities of finding beauty in a degraded world. Startling line breaks often appear as “a crack/ against the bright glass,/ a burst of black/ feathers.” Similarly, many of the book’s extended sequences get interrupted mid-thought by well-timed breaks. This subtle presence of such silences across the collection cultivates a provocative and fitting sense of unease on the part of the reader, who is apt to marvel at the language, unsure if harm will come to the imaginative world that is being constructed. In such a way, Prufer subtly implicates the audience in this accomplished, highly nuanced inquiry into spectacle and spectatorship. (Mar.)