Friday, April 14, 2017

What I've Read: Odd Bloom Seen From Space

Thank you to NetGalley and University of Iowa Press for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Odd Bloom Seen From Space is a remarkable collection, not the least of which is for what it accomplishes and balances in each poem. At once, these poems are biographical and confessional and nostalgic, but never precious; self-aware but never smugly so; unflinching but without callousness. Thematically, these poems are filled with the reconciliation of histories, personal and public; memory, ancestry, and pop culture; man and literature and landscapes. In "Outside Los Banos, California", Welch writes "There's a brutal distance / between men", and it's this brutal distance that Odd Bloom Seen From Space investigates, makes known, and contends with in each verse. There are parts that are brutal, that unflinchingly meditate on alienation, and yet others that undermine the gravitas of all that and are, instead, flippant and funny. These elements never compete with each other, finding a reflexive balance in each poem that reads instead as simple truth. There are moments of confession, moments of reconciliation, and moments of amusement, all strewn together into a lively melange of poems that surprise, challenge, and delight the reader.

The poem "Carried By A Bee" also features what is almost certainly one of my favorite lines I've read this year: "if we are not the victims of our own kind hearts then / our stupid lives are sad".

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