cover image Journey to the Sun

Journey to the Sun

Brent Cunningham. Atelos (SPD, dist.), $13.50 trade paper (118p) ISBN 978-1-8911

What if a naïve American teenage boy had visions like William Blake’s, imagined solutions brought by angels and aliens to the Earth’s most pressing problems, and what if he tried (like Blake) to write them all down, inventing (like Blake) a new form of partly narrative, partly gnomic, verse in order to do it? Cunningham’s charming, unexpectedly ambitious, delightfully unified second collection answers that question in an insistently quotable set of short linked poems full of real wisdom. “You ask for prophecies—/ I give you prophecies,” Cunningham’s stand-in declares, instructing whatever human beings will listen. Elsewhere the boy explains, perhaps correctly, “truly there are only 2 forms/ of human problems:// 1: there is Some-thing left to think/ 2. there is nothing left to think.” The title announces at once the boy’s interest in planets and stars, his imagined trip to the sun, and his perhaps tongue-in-cheek imagined future, where “Every-one will live on the Sun!/ & sit at Solar Tables!/ EVENTUALLY!” At the same time, he warns us, “this is only Poetry.” Cunningham makes naïveté into a lens; each “division” and “section” rewards careful attention, a witness to hopes and frustration of kids and grownups on Earth, as well as to the “BURNING BALL in the sky!” (Sept.)