Lives

CJ Evan. Sarabande, $15.95 trade paper (80p) ISBN 978-1-946448-96-5

The perceptive, atmospheric second work from Evans (A Penance) is divided into four sections whose poems are both intimate and expansive. As Victoria Chang writes in her introduction, the collection “explores and circles around, into and out of what it means to be free and alive in a world where humans insist on war and environmental destruction.” There are moments of beautiful lyric observation throughout, “I don’t know how to tell you about/ the rain. It falls as if all these woods/ weren’t owned... this lifetime of lovely almost-but-/ never pain is the rain’s” and “we will all, eventually,/ be carried away by wind.” Other poems tackle violence and terror, as seen in “Since the Last Shooting, Until the Next Shooting,” which powerfully ends on an image of the “locked/ closet where between reports/ we hear our blood.” These ruminative poems are full of finely crafted lines and carefully unfolding narratives. “And what else could my heart be for if not to try?” Evans writes in “Time for Lives Getting Better Is Done,” capturing the spirit of this searching collection. (June)
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