Friday, March 20, 2015

Heather Christle, Heliopause

  I did not know
when I began I’d fill these poems
with so much information
                                          which saturates
my life
            Some people see information
As that which cannot be predicted
                                                        the break
in the pattern
                        It is still snowing
I’d like to know how this year
will break me (“Dear Seth”)

American poet Heather Christle’s fourth collection of poetry, Heliopause (Middletown CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2015), concerns itself with a curious amount of exploration on the ideas of the confessional. She utilizes “so much information / which saturates / my life,” as in the section “Dear Seth,” a suite of poems for the poet Seth Landman. With poem-sections such as “Elegy for Neil Armstrong,” “Dear Seth” and “Poem for Bill Cassidy,” Christle utilizes the personal as a way to enter into an exploration of light, and how contemporary humans manage to exist, relate and interrelate amid the incredible noise of distractions and the approaching dark. As the poem “Disintegration Loop 1.1” opens: “In seeking to resolve a conflict / between two parties / one can assume / each believes it is acting / in good faith / just as the hopeful / gravel waits for your rough step [.]” Christle’s poems are expansive and massive, and deeply intimate, managing to hold themselves together against the impossibilities of being so very large, and so deeply personal.

Realistic Flowers

At the dollar store I bought
a bouquet of fake flowers
and what could have been
but somehow (incredibly) wasn’t
It only cost $2 but still
that did not help
                            I planted
the flowers among actual flowers
b/c what else can you do
I was so happy I could have
torn your head apart

Her poem “Annual,” for example, closes with: “Our lives are I think / coming apart / There were clouds / we could see but not say [.]” The poem “Elegy for Neil Armstrong” is especially striking for its use of white text, composed as a narrative sequence of hesitations, on black pages. Speaking directly to Armstrong, Christle composes spare words against a dark page, with words like stars, scattered. And how easily one could simply lose oneself, there.

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