cover image Wolf Centos

Wolf Centos

Simone Muench. Sarabande (Consortium, dist.), $14.95 trade paper (72p) ISBN 978-1-936747-79-5

Muench (Orange Crush), a winner of the Marianne Moore Prize for Poetry and 2013 NEA Fellowship recipient, successfully restricts herself to the cento form in her fifth collection, repurposing the lines and fragments of other writers. "Every transformation is possible," Muench writes, eschewing narrative obligations to create poems in which each iteration of the wolf adds something intangible to this complex world. The words, gleaned and repurposed from over 200 sources, have an exponential emotional impact; Muench manages to amplify her own creative power through the megaphone of literary history as she cobbles together a series of modern, sensual, and urgent short poems that howl about self, desire, and song. "In the space of a half-open gold door/ your body's animals want to get out," Muench names a still-present, lurking, unnamable wildness. She uses old words to point to a still contemporary connection between poetry and the primal, demonstrating the consistent importance of language, despite all obstructions: "Night in all things: in corners, in men's eyes%E2%80%94/bees in a dried-out hive. Thus we forget/ that only words still stand like tar fires in the woods." Thus, Muench advises: "Sing with big blue tongue,/ sing until it breaks the night%E2%80%94/ black champagne, a lamentation." (Aug.)