cover image Borderline Fortune

Borderline Fortune

Teresa K. Miller. Penguin, $20 (96p) ISBN 978-0-14-313681-1

The National Poetry Series–winning second collection from Miller (sped) emerges from a world where “Truth tempts/ banishment.” Full of meditative and sharp lyric moments, these poems are alive with complexity and critique. Acoustically, they enact the swell and crash of water: “the wish/ you’d unwhisper,” “friction/ on the flint.” Thematically, they prod the undercurrents of society and the expectations of American life, offering the honest statement that “no reward waits/ on the other side of suffering,” and refusing easy valorization. Instead, they dwell within suffering, bearing witness from a place where people have been “warped melancholy by our raising.” A letter from Miller’s great-grandmother, who accompanied her husband to an island in the Bering Strait where he went to be a teacher, appears as well, complicating the story as Miller wrestles with the legacy of colonization and intergenerational trauma, and the “uncertain potential” of humanity. Miller’s poems suggest that hearing the truth is hard, and often offers no direct or easy answer at all. These are valuable, urgent poems of witness. (Oct.)