cover image The Courier's Archive & Hymnal

The Courier's Archive & Hymnal

Joshua Marie Wilkinson. Sidebrow (SPD, dist.), $15 trade paper (56p) ISBN 978-0-9814975-9-4

In the third book (after Swamp Isthmus) of his No Volta pentalogy, Wilkinson conjures a bewildering, unsettling landscape where one feels the "blindness of being partway down the stairs." The poems here are more concerned with atmosphere and texture than narrative sense or intelligibility; never does one feel safely grounded or aware of what lay ahead (indeed, "the question now was not even toward what, but instead which path out?"). Rather, Wilkinson leads readers through a phantasmagorical dream world, his halting syntax and disorienting perspectives acting as a short tether. It becomes evident that the courier-speaker only exists as a ghostly facsimile, one decidedly more obfuscated than in this book's predecessor. These poems may only be accessible in the context of the pentalogy, as finding an associative entry point into this ghost-speaker's world is like trying to grab a fistful of moonlight while wondering, "What armors the birds?" Wilkinson, it seems, is conscious of his tenuous foothold on the precipice: "What I am trying to photograph stalls out, pastes itself to the sun-bleached poster of the shop." In filling pages with these dense, haunting text blocks, Wilkinson reminds us that, even if memory is reduced to a sieve piecing together ethereal imagery, "Your whereabouts remain with you." (Apr.)