Country, Living

Ira Sadoff. Alice James, $16.95 trade paper (64p) ISBN 978-1-948579-10-0
Sadoff (History Matters) considers the relationship between the individual and the collective in his formally dexterous eighth collection. Here, forms change shape before the reader’s eyes, from prose poems, to couplets, to luminous fragments. The book’s formal diversity speaks to Sadoff’s subject matter, reminding the reader of the artifice inherent in imagining cohesion, whether of a country, a literary genre, or even a family unit. “Since this is a story I’m flying/ over apple orchards and airports,” he writes, drawing attention to the pretense of a unifying narrative. Yet the poet also acknowledges the glorious multiplicity inherent in stories. “How many sides to a story?” he asks as the poem transitions from “the desultory frontier of ocean” to gunfire and grief, and back again. Narrative is framed as a form of power and agency: “Oil told the story here, the way the Triangle fire told the story/ of the Weinbergs, Greenspans and Cohens.” Fittingly, the book ends at a moment when “there was no story/ to our little ranch house/ so you couldn’t hear a thing.” Sadoff evokes complex philosophical ideas with a deceptive simplicity throughout. This is an accomplished addition to his impressive body of work. (June)
Reviewed on : 05/20/2020
Release date: 06/01/2020
Genre: Poetry
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