cover image Back to the Woods

Back to the Woods

Cynthia Cruz. Four Way, $17.95 trade paper (74p) ISBN 978-1-954245-64-8

Cruz’s latest (after Hotel Oblivion) examines the human inclination for self-destruction. Reframing questions of human survival, these poems contend with the ruinous remains of life in the Anthropocene, “Marred with glitch// cracked and mangled/ like satellites/ crashing into a gas giant.” Addressing environmental destruction, mass violence, and self-annihilating substance abuse, Cruz suggests that what is actually sought is a kind of transformation, and possible redemption, through obliteration. Recurring images such as a cassette tape (“the murmur/ of your voice// recorded back/ into the black// gauze of its matte/ ribbons.// Its blur of tape/ unspooled,// undone, then damaged/ by hand”) point to the kind of looping renewal the poems present as a space of possibility. Through the idea of going “back to the woods,” these pieces suggest a turn towards viewing “Rupture as a means/ of making.” Both epic and personal in scale (“If I had a home/ it would be// a still in a film/ where the sound/ got jammed,” she writes in “Shine”), this exquisitely lyrical and unsettling collection charts a way forward by looking back. (Sept.)