Constellation Route

Matthew Olzmann. Alice James, $17.95 trade paper (100p) ISBN 978-1-948579-23-0
Conceived as the assembled contents of a mail carrier’s pouch, the intimate and affecting third book by Olzmann (Contradictions in the Design) presents the poet as sender, receiver, and courier. He marvels at the medium’s special delivery: "This always stuns me: the way an envelope arrives; how we/ still reach toward one another, how this correspondence/ endures: one figure approaches your door with a satchel/ full of sand, pigeon feathers, sorrows, and names." Letters to and from poets and friends are interwoven with poems of unconventional dispatch: "Letter to My Car’s Radiator," "Letter to a Bridge Made of Rope," and "Letter to the Person Who Carved His Initials into the Oldest Living Longleaf Pine in America." Topics range widely from poetic craft to racial identity and the climate crisis. Arcane facts and technical vocabulary drawn from the history of the U.S. postal service (itself an endangered institution) flower into metaphor: day zero, wing case, phantom route, daylight container—"How impossible is this: to reach across time/or oceans to say the one thing you need to say?" In language at once direct and artful, Olzmann memorably explores the question of how one might speak across the gulfs dividing humankind. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 11/11/2021
Release date: 03/01/2022
Genre: Poetry
Discover what to read next