Books

The Discovery

Taut, vivid poems in which the sound is the thing

Some pages of Joseph Massey’s recent poetry collection “Illocality’’ (Wave) hold 10 words or less. Brevity isn’t the right word for it though. It’s a minimalism that replicates a flickering, the noticing that occurs on the edges, barely conscious, there, gone. His are poems of gutters, guardrails, empty parking lots during dead-time Sunday hours. Afternoons spent doing nothing more than watching light move across the floor. Massey, who lives in the Pioneer Valley, is alert to each season’s specific mood, each month’s even. From a summer poem called “Route 31”: “So much metal/ shoving sun/ the sun shoves back.” Summer’s heat and glare are captured perfectly. In his lean lines, words dissipate, and sound becomes the thing. These taut, vivid poems lead to the best place a poem can take you: They realign you to the world, and make you see anew.

NINA MACLAUGHLIN

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