cover image Rings


Jasmine Dreame Wagner. Kelsey Street (SPD, dist.), $15 trade paper (128p) ISBN 978-0-932716-83-5

Wagner's debut collection is an astounding, labyrinthine, and primordial environment where language is a refreshingly bewildering, alien thing: "few could see the trees/ for the fringe, the forest for its foreign language." These poems are wild creatures sprawling into one another in a loose alphabetic form that is powerfully exercised, technically masterful, and encyclopedic in its scope. The book moves like a single complex organism with a multiplicity of curious voices; it wonders "why do black holes radiate energy/ and why does this energy imply heat/ and heat imply body and body/ imply loss." To feel these poems is to feel how "most words known aren't navigable roads. As most words used are heavy metals, migration." In another dimension of the collection, Wagner unravels threads of history, architecture, and ruin that make up our world and our existence, using the Greenpoint Terminal Market and the V. I. Lenin Palace of Culture and Sport as her Hting points. Swimming against the currents of modernity, she urgently attempts to absorb and reconceive the world against the outpourings of the "search engine optimized content factory." Wagner documents voraciously so that, like our ancestor's cave paintings, we can clearly see ourselves, our world, and our imperfections. (Oct.)