cover image A Year and Other Poems

A Year and Other Poems

Jos Charles. Milkweed, $22 trade paper (128p) ISBN 978-1-571-31547-2

The luminous latest from Charles (feeld) unfolds in a series of short lyrics over the course of a year, holding time's progression in a delicate balance with a changing self. These carefully constructed poems are organized by their forms, with titles like "A Note," "A New York Poem," "A Song," "A Fantasy," and of course "A Year." While Charles's previous books were informed by the diction of social media (Safe Space) and of old English (feeld), this latest casts more widely, and privately, for its idiom, finding it in the poem itself: "I put you into a poem/ You climbed the giantest tree" and "We speak/ a language capable of itself." Like Paul Celan, whom the collection notes as a touchstone, readers are asked to wade into the idiosyncratic language of another's mind, and to be transformed by it, "Awaiting/ not clarity," Charles writes, "but mineral a membrane/ between us." "Awaiting not clarity" they repeat afterward, "but the shadow of something clear." Charles's abstract and elegiac lyricism lends beauty to these intriguing pages. (Mar.)