Thursday, March 3, 2016


I don't read a lot of contemporary poetry, but this volume's name caught my eye.

It is a placeless meditation on place--by focusing in so narrowly on the trash in his yard, the descriptions become placeless. It reminds us that place isn't only a description of stuff--it is empty without the relationships that people it.

The volume is illustrated by a recurring photograph of a late winter tree, just before spring's buds.

I claim it's a late winter tree, but the truth is, it's timeless in the same way that his descriptions of place are placeless. Many of the poems are set in March, as if to be set in a time that is both not really winter and not really spring.

It (and for all I know, contemporary poetry) is all about the spacing and placement of words on a page, one poem broken up into many little ones on many pages. The short stanzas that look like a whole poem evoke Emily Dickinson. This reviewer claims:

His ambitious brevities evoke Emily Dickinson, who seems to have coined the word in Massey’s title: at once an “ill locality,” an ailing place and a failure to know where you are. 

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