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Joanna Fuhrman, . . Alice James, $15.95 (73pp) ISBN 978-1-882295-77-7

Fuhrman's fourth book of poems is as miscellaneous and daunting as a rummage sale. Her personal brand of what her publisher calls “pop-surrealism” has moments of hilarity, illumination, solemnity and insight, but is at times unwieldy and impenetrable. While the least coherent poems fail to hold much interest—it seems as if she rushes through her most fantastic images, leaving almost no time for them to unfold before moving on—Fuhrman (Moraine ) is not above acknowledging her own obliqueness (“a puffy-head muffin might as well/ own every so-called 'emotion'/ what is a puffy head muffin anyway?”), as if asking the reader to bear with her, which can be well worth the effort. Fuhrman's delightfully weird and most penetrating moments are a joy: “to be a writer... is to sing untranslatable lullabies to Brussels sprouts.” She can be simultaneously solemn and playful, such as in the discovery “that opera is only one of many strategies to combat happiness.” Taking the reader from “metaphysical gossip” all the way to the “Evil Boss Convention,” this collection is at once philosophical and frivolous. (Nov.)