Against a “secret nostalgic horror” that threatens our ability to be in the world (and our own lives) fully, Jill Darling deploys a subtle weave of repetition and revision that allows lyric innovation and cultural critique to work as one. This book brings into even sharper focus the poet’s astonishing ability to make the sensual texture of experience vivid as “a kind of counter logic” that aids (in part by exposing the contradictions in) our thinking and feeling. Where grief has sharpened insight (where “crows enter like lanterns”), the bullet wound opens as a “tunnel of flesh” which opens, further, into a subway that seems also to be a columbarium. These poems are deep voyages charting the betrayals and failures we need an account of, in order to honor “the exceptional ordinary” which nourishes and supports our sense of social justice.
A city presents us with (environmental, social, cultural) contradictions, keeps us busy. One clears a space for the body (as have others: hence (re)iteration(s)) and then, and all the while, there are syllables, and as sure as there are failures and lessons, there is song. “how far you can go is another / direction (unknown).” There is these poems singing into disconcerting realizations, resonating with uncertain times, questioning the relationship between present and past and their logics, dismantling and rebuilding (form) as a means of staying in flux, when “there is only one / response, forward.”
Jill Darling is the author of a geography of syntax, Solve For, and begin with may: a series of moments, as well as collaborative chapbooks with Laura Wetherington and Hannah Ensor: at the intersection of 3, and The First Steps are the Deepest. Her critical poetics essays can be found in How2, Something on Paper, The Quint, and Ethos: A Digital Review of Arts, Humanities, and Public Ethics. Poems, short fiction, and creative essays have also been published in a variety of literary journals. Darling teaches at The University of Michigan-Dearborn.