cover image Chariot


Timothy Donnelly. Wave, $18 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-1-950268-77-1

Donnelly (The Problem of Many) refines and clarifies his long-lined style into a litany of 20-lined poems that wonder at life, its meaning, and its absurdity in this ruminative fourth collection. Toggling between the philosophical, mundane, and familiar, Donnelly changes registers between lyrical, even academic tones (“syllable by syllable I make the mistake of displacing”), and colloquial ones (“Actually I think I already get this on a gut level”). The energy created by this tension is pleasurable to read; one gets the sense that Donnelly is at once curious, observant, and deeply smart. In poems filled with “Volkswagens,/ Christmas trees, and the leather couches of suburbia” and rife with tangential corrections and additions, he examines “humanity again done in by its own traffic,” as well as this “crumbling/ world of empire.” Death and grief are palpable in these poems as he asks: “how is it possible we live, die, and are born?” “There was a universe of words,” he writes, “and in it I could fly/ sans impediment.” Donnelly appears as the almost-unwilling captain of the ship of absurdity which all sail upon, and that poetry attempts to clarify. These layered poems are full of worthy questions. (May)