Loads of Learned Lumber

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Heather Christle, _The Trees The Trees_

WHAT A KICK to see this volume by the estimable Heather Christle from the estimable Octopus Books on the short list for poetry honors in The Believer.

These might be prose poems; they tend to be regular quadrilaterals in appearance on the page, both right- and left-justified รก la prose poems, but they also have distinct spaces in the text that fall in places that line breaks might well occur:

anyway it's not like we are
going to lie down all day on the tarmac though
we do love the tarmac it is so responsible and
landed upon and from it we can count airplane windows

Nary a punctuation mark throughout the book, but the line breaks where the lines actually break interact cross-rhythmically with the "line breaks" created by the spacing in a particularly rewarding way, I think, so that the sound of the poem is always in motion, always teetering a bit, as the speakers of the poems always seem to be teetering a bit, balancing (precariously, but successfully) consensus reality (it would be foolish to lie down on the tarmac) with private truth (something there is that wants to lie down on the tarmac).

Over the course of the book, something bad seems to be happening or to have happened (the final poem ends, "oh hands cannot keep / anything together pretty baby oh it beats me why / we try") but the poems keep finding beauty in surprising places.

what were we
doing sorting buttons braiding each other's
long quiet hair the trees all the time grow

A good long stride beyond The Difficult Farm, delightful as that volume was. And now there's a new one. Good on you, H.C.

1 comment:

Theobald said...

Hmm. I notice the mid-line spacings disappeared from my quotations, thus spoiling the effect I was trying to describe. Well, you'll just have to buy the book.