cover image Strange Children

Strange Children

Dan Brady. Publishing Genius, $15.95 trade paper (80p) ISBN 978-1-945028-12-0

In Brady’s debut collection, a narrative of medical trauma and its impact on a new family comes together through rigorous, spare poems. The opener, “Stroke Diary,” unfolds in clipped, precise movements, leaving much space for each new development to register: “I call the doctor./ Describe. Ask.// The doctor/ and my wife// speak in stereo: call 911.” By stripping poems down to the bare essentials, Brady enacts the eerie tunnel vision that can be brought on during a crisis. The diction is taut, even brittle at times, as the speaker and his recovering wife accommodate themselves to an unanticipated reality: “Our life together,/ like a great whale// breaching, or rather/ as fast as a fish// picks a single fly/ from the river water.” The second part of the book sees the family five years later, rebuilding and reckoning with “grief and gratefulness” as they move on with their lives. Here, brevity remains an essential quality of the poems but is deployed to different ends. Rather than imparting finality, the few words strive for a poetics of openness. As Brady writes, “The morning is a sea/ and the whole world/ sloshes about/ with possibility.” Full of heart, Brady’s succinct poems are effective and affecting. (Apr.)