cover image Mornings Like This: Found Poems

Mornings Like This: Found Poems

Annie Dillard. HarperCollins Publishers, $20 (75pp) ISBN 978-0-06-017155-1

Found poems are to their poet what no-fault insurance is to beneficiaries: payoffs waiting to happen where everyone wins and no one is blamed. Dillard culls about 40 such happy accidents from sources as diverse as a The American Boys Handy Book (1882) and the letters of Van Gogh. Taking the texts nearly verbatim but toying with theme and line breaks, the poet aims for a lucky, loaded symbolism that catapults the reader into an epiphany never imagined by the original authors. If parts of this collection fall short of that ideal, there are plenty of chuckles and some beautiful turns of phrase. Poems of joy tend to fare better than the more somber efforts. It is hard to play serious with a style that relies on techniques more common in comedy, such as understatement (``Another legal situation/ Is death'') and double entendre (``Try dropping from different heights''). Regardless, these co-op verses are never less than intriguing. (June)