cover image I Entered Without Words

I Entered Without Words

Jody Gladding. Princeton Univ., $19.95 trade paper (80p) ISBN 978-0-691-23896-8

Translator Gladding (the spiders my arms) explores the role of environment and scenery in her formally innovative latest. Printed in a landscape format, these experimental poems play with white space and typography to manipulate the reader’s experience (a “Note to Readers” remarks that “through-lines in bold offer a way in. Other words constellate around... and readers are free to move about the page as they please”). This allows each poem to be read in multiple ways; for instance, the bolded text “swallows light in the open” provides one lyric image while the full text of the poem read down the page reads: “toward nightfall// the mountain// swallows// the last// of the sun// flashing// back// its light// circling// the city walls// in search of// the open// wounds.” Meanings interact and layer in each poem, offering the potential of a nonlinear reading that can be revisited. Some poems additionally have French versions on the facing page, adding another dimension to the idea of multiple points of entry into Gladding’s work. This conceptual structure allows for several compressed gems, including “ribs/ were/ the/ first/ rafters,” and will appeal to readers who enjoy impressionistic, lyric work with an experimental edge. (Sept.)