Fifteen days until 2013. Today’s review is of a book of poetry.
Destroyer and Preserver, Matthew Rohrer
This collection, of standard width but nonstandard height, swoops over others like an office complex full of aspiring poets. I felt uneasy about references to babies, adult alcohol use, sleeplessness. It’s strikingly wrong for me right now.
Rohrer must notice how often he mentions ghosts, clouds, and sunset-reddened things. But I didn’t gain depth from repetition. Instead it jarred me and lessened the image’s effectiveness. One poem ends, “and we have no way/ to reach them” which I liked, but I couldn’t appreciate when another concluded with “all the people…that can’t reach us now.” Two otherwise distinct poems start with “We have some sad news this morning from Mars.” Enough similarity to detect repetition, but not enough to grasp a pattern.
Sometimes he replaces all instances of “and” with ampersands. Sigh.
I did appreciate Rohrer’s line breaks, which topple thoughts like dominoes and interrupt clauses. In “Believe,” this effect echoes a journey to an unknown destination. It shifts between places: filling out paperwork, night on the train, school, etc., and ends with waiting, a non-ending. The split line breaks propel the narrator coherently through shifting settings.
Reading a poetry collection in one sitting is not ideal. Poetry is to be savored, so a few re-reads would likely yield more favorable discoveries.