cover image Rise Up

Rise Up

Matthew Rohrer, . . Wave, $14 (65pp) ISBN 978-1-933517-18-6

Hip, humorous, ironic, winking and deceptively footloose, the 17 stylish poems and sequences of Rohrer's fifth collection take a skewed look at the politics and passages of contemporary life. Written in jagged columns, these free verse poems weave their way in and out of public and personal spheres, always careful—sometimes overly so—to keep the reader at a playful distance. Surreal details ("Money burrows/ its way to the very core/ of the Earth") meet political protestations ("In the president's dream... / .../ I do not kill him./ Even in his own dream I do not shake his hand") in poems that take a fittingly indignant stance on an era when so much is wrong that it seems difficult to pinpoint anything. Rohrer (A Green Light ) is also capable of great tenderness: "You were so sad: goodbye: I was so sad." The book also maintains an abiding fascination with 19th-century poets, with references to Claire, Shelley and Coleridge, among others ("I think I hear one of Keats' short poems"), who hang in the background of Rohrer's laid-back romanticism. There's a certain slacker mentality to these poems, which is both off-putting and appealing. Whatever one thinks, these poems are often startlingly accurate representations of their times. (Apr.)