That Was Now, This Is Then

Vijay Seshadri. Graywolf, $24 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-1-64445-036-9
After the maximalist approach of Seshadri’s Pulitzer Prize–winning 3 Sections, this contemplative fourth collection deploys his trademark philosophical mode with less sharply defined edges, and more room for interruptions and diversion. The first of the book’s three sections features poems for the age of distraction. In “Robocall,” a ringing landline causes “Three or four brand-new ideas—not crisp/ or sensical but, still, helpful to me—” to flee. The second section is anchored in grief; in “Collins Ferry Landing,” an elegy to Seshadri’s father, the poet observes, “Only rivers bottom out like this” before the lineated poem transforms into a dense prose block. These poems movingly capture the feeling of being suspended in a moment, as well as in a culturally mandated experience: “I wasn’t just feeling grief but congratulating myself for it,” the speaker admits. The book’s final section ranges more broadly; one speaker notes that it is “at least a relief to know... you can emerge and re-enter the public sphere.” Fans of Seshadri will find the thoughtfulness, humor, and lyric precision they have come to expect from the poet. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 08/13/2020
Release date: 10/06/2020
Genre: Poetry
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