Except for the use of capital letters, which serve to signify a new sentence, Olson (Boyishly
) chooses not to punctuate these colloquial, block-stanza poems as a way of claiming her own voice: “Punctuation/ a way I try to claim what I own,” she writes in her second collection. History and folklore, from testimonies of civil rights activists to the imagined words of her own dead parents, blend with the language of text messages and the syntax of war. About a dead brother, Olson writes: “I glimpse him/ some mornings in the woods out back/ he’s dimming further away I wrote/ him down,” painting a portrait of America’s lost citizens residing alongside those who have remained. In the arresting long poem “txt me I’m board,” Olson’s speaker is flying home from a week of poetry readings while checking her nephew’s Instagram feed; she interweaves the boy’s texts with the prayers of an anxious seatmate and the words of three male poets with whom she read in San Francisco. The collaging inspires empathy: for her nephew, grieving over a beloved cat, as for her seatmate, who assures her, during a turbulent landing, “God takes no poet/ until his best poem is written/ You my friend will save us all.
” The resulting poem suggests that if we are to be saved, it will be through our words to and about one another. (May)