cover image The Certain Body

The Certain Body

Julia Guez. Four Way, $17.95 trade paper (64p) ISBN 978-1-954245-30-3

Guez (In an Invisible Glass Case Which Is Also a Frame) pithily contemplates the threshold between life and death, and longing and survival. The poetic strength here lies in a steadfast dedication to transparency. Grief is recontextualized, its novelty understood as a visceral ache that integrates itself into the body: “After the first/ death, there is/ no other, but/ the requiem is/ endless, endless the/ sequelae whose ever-/widening rings widen/ around the names/ of the dead/ swallowing those who/ survive them.” Guez skillfully illustrates how the experience of change feels to the mind: “Now nothing will ever be the same again./ And everything will be as it always was.” Expounding on desensitization, she highlights the ascending violence “that even/ a plague cannot contain.” Guez’s poems are grounded and kindred, but despite her ability to alchemize the simple into the transcendent, imagery is sometimes deprioritized. This collection starkly gazes into humankind’s multifaceted ills while still supplying a saccharine-free dose of hope. (Sept.)