cover image Emoemoji : Woods

Emoemoji : Woods

Dan Boehl. Edition Solitude, $15 trade paper (188p) ISBN 978-3-937158-92-1

Boehl (Kings of the F**King Sea), a co-founder of the small press Birds LLC, blends whimsy and minimalism in his second full-length collection, an insouciant take on nature writing in the era of Twitter. Written during a residency in Germany, the book records impressions of people, places, and things in highly constrained lyrics. Each of the collection’s fragmented, yet flowing, poems contains just one word per line. Some poems offer irreverent musings on tradition (“henry/ david/ therouxs/ a/ grumpy/ know/ it/ all”), while others merge the digital and the pastoral (“touch/ screen/ tech/ of/ email/ vs/ first/ thing/ I/ do/ in/ the/ morning/ is/ check/ the/ field/ for/ fox”). A sort of slacker nonchalance contrasts with a sublime melancholy throughout the collection: “just/ measuring/ things// my/ leg// the/ distance/ between/ us// bizarre/ trees/ white/ in/ opposition.” Boehl sometimes stumbles when he takes on larger subjects; the collection’s brief treatment of the Holocaust, for example, aims for detached profundity, but ends up feeling glib. Still, Boehl’s curt poems can charm the reader—at once concrete and foggy, each “patchwork/ path” leads somewhere odd and unexpected. (June)