“But that’s what it wasn’t like/sometimes”: in Poe’s marvelous poems the lit and the oblique delineate the textures of the never-knowable and the known. A restless and irresistible intelligence meets an exquisitely nuanced sense of the senses. The sensual and the metaphysical, Feeling and Thinking, what she names “the sensual infrastructure” and a “parenthetical ontology,” everywhere intersect. A poetic version of what wine connoisseurs call mouthfeel—the sensation on the tongue—is in every line of this book, “dada and blahblah,” the tongue’s rejoicing in consonant and vowel. Pound’s names for the powers of poetry—melopoeia, logopoeia, phanopoeia: the music, the linguistic play, the sensory image—all smolder at a white heat throughout Poe’s stunning debut.
A mouthful, an electric stumble, a well-spaced lunge, Poe’s formal inquiry into the laws of settlement is a study in line breaks and trust. She is looking for a ‘between’ between sense organs and the dispossessed. She finds it. You witness her do so poem after poem. Her mindful tongue gathers the sensual (blossoms, mirrors, lakelight) refusing to hide the limits of the body within ideology. Neither Mother nor Mondrian could have structured such exquisite brushes with breath. These poems tremble like woodwinds, but Poe’s hands are on a grand piano pushing what is said against what is not. If you like to read text as musical score, you’ll love how Poe lotions language, positions it as a grin, as clench—part thigh, part tassel, part treatise.
Lori Anderson Moseman