Monday, May 20, 2013

Review: The Porcupinity of the Stars by Gary Barwin

I started out reading The Porcupinity of the Stars by Gary Barwin (Coach House, 2010) quickly, tearing through half the book in a sitting, and I had to stop. I then started over again, taking a few weeks to get through it, reading a couple pages a day. The poems in the book vary in their content--there are ones about family life, personal experiences, dreamlike sequences, poems that reference other poetry ("two roads diverged in a yellow wood / I took one / it doesn't matter / I'm not giving it back")--but the poems share the same warm, heartfelt, vaguely surreal, and utterly charming tone, and they were a pleasure to spend time with. Porcupinity is sometimes funny, sometimes melancholy, but above all a quiet, human sort of book. Barwin's use of language is expert--clear and inventive--and reading Porcupinity quickly was fun, but it was more rewarding to read the book slowly and let the poems sink in. I'm sure I'll be reading it again.

from The Porcupinity of the Stars

Planting Consent

I carried my TV down the stairs
buried it on a hill
with a beautiful view

by spring a small antenna
sprouted in that place

somewhere under the earth
wispy clouds and wingbeats of birds