cover image Twice Alive: An Ecology of Intimacies

Twice Alive: An Ecology of Intimacies

Forrest Gander. New Directions, $16.95 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-0-8112-3029-2

Gander’s resonant 15th collection (after Be With) vibrates with the thrill that comes with being open with another person. There are several poems titled “Sangam Acoustics” (sangam being “a gathering of individuals united in spirit”); aubades; a series titled “The Redwoods,” in which slashes and words mimic the shapes of cross-sections of the trees (photographs of which are on facing pages); and several entries in which phrases are separated by bolded bullets. Gander’s startlingly fresh observations (“the white-tufted foreheads/ of waves” and “the path riffled/by creamy edible morels and// poisonous false morels”) counter a voice that says, “Don’t be so/ rational.” Moments of revelation (“I am here never to be peeled away”; “our identity... is combinatory”) reenforce Gander’s interest in the creation of new beings and in all living things. The book’s meticulous structure, with its repetition of forms, allows the theme of rebirth (“as I find you within me—not fused, not/ bonded, but nested”) to resonate in references to lichen, sangam, and sexual coupling. This is an ecologically aware, tender, and captivating work. (May)