cover image The Pictures

The Pictures

Max Winter, . . Tarpaulin Sky Press, $12 (76pp) ISBN 978-0-9779019-2-0

The images in Fence editor Winter's first collection have been rendered twice, from 30 unnamed photos and short movies into 30 poems. Arranged in two sections, "Still" and "Moving," the poems are ordered and titled according to picture size or film length. Unlike traditional ekphrastic work, these poems are noticeably devoid of any overt attribution to the source images; there is only the poet's unsparing description. Each of the images, from family portraits to clips of warfare, is described in relation to the reader, demanding a passive agreement with the poem's judgments, as in "11 by 11": "Her skin is rough/ and her face indicates/ that the emotion we see/ has been her only emotion,/ with occasional deviations, for several weeks." As these images and conclusions mount, they develop into a composite picture of the speaker himself. The centerpiece is "9 by 9," a dense, contemplative two-page prose poem describing a portrait of a woman posing in a subway station: "No use in worrying, here, about what the hair is all about, because that never really comes forward in a purely two-dimensional medium." This is a long-awaited debut by a promising younger poet. (Feb.)