cover image [To] the Last [Be] Human

[To] the Last [Be] Human

Jorie Graham. Copper Canyon, $22 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-1-55659-660-5

Collecting Graham’s four stellar eco-poetic volumes, this searing and sensitive portrait of environmental contingency is as formally ambitious as it is captivating and wise. As Robert Macfarlane aptly writes in his beautiful introduction, the task of these poems is one “of record as well as of warning: to preserve what it felt like to be a human in these accelerated years when ‘the future / takes shape / too quickly.’” In “Positive Feedback Loop (June 2007),” Graham writes, “I am listening in this silence that precedes. Forget/ everything, start listening./ Tipping point, flash/ point,/ convective chimneys in the seas bounded by Greenland... fish are starving to death in the Great Barrier Reef, the new Age of Extinctions is/ now/ says the silence-that-precedes—you know not what/ you/ are entering,/ a time beyond belief.” Her most recent collection, Runaway, poignantly ends with “Poem”: “The earth said/ remember me./ The earth said/ don’t let go,// said it one day/ when I was/ accidentally/ listening, I// heard it, I felt it/ like temperature,/ all said in a/ whisper—build to-// morrow, make right befall...” To hold these volumes together is to have proof of Graham’s unmatched powers and to reckon with the resilience the present age demands. (Sept.)