cover image late summer ode

late summer ode

Olena Kalytiak Davis. Copper Canyon, $17 trade paper (128p) ISBN 978-1-55659-647-6

The lavish latest from Davis (after The Poem She Didn’t Write and Other Poems) delivers poems of spitfire erudition. The sonnet form, rambunctiously reimagined, continues to be the poet’s favored, and few writing in English today do it as well as she: “the right words in the right order/ by instinct if you’re lucky.” With characteristically unfailing aim, the poet outsmarts her own expressions of dread, regret, nostalgia, and “joie de death”: “Lo, even as I sat in my under/ wear in brooklyn, in sweat and exist/ ential angst on a friday night so hot/ so wrong.” In one poem, she writes herself off (“i pronounce/ me done AF”), and then ridicules her poetic virtuosity, “so muscular your fucking sonnetry!” Among the book’s many muses, Berrigan (“it all lies there inside-out-/ him”) and Rilke are strong presences, as well as Keats, Bishop, and Kendrick Lamar. Letters to old lovers and recollected sexcapades interweave with poems about motherhood and the poet’s two grown children (“six feet tall/ malnourished sugar addicted” and “i/ bred and warned those would too soon replace me/ don’t join any organized sport fuck crying/ think only what you think no sophistry”). Readers will revel in poems at once astringent and salacious. (Oct.)