Join the conversation
Subscribe to Our Emails
Boston Review is a public space for the discussion of ideas and culture. Sign up for our newsletters and don’t miss a thing.
A powerful voice in younger American poetry has arrived.
Heather Christle, The Difficult Farm, Octopus Books, $12.00 (paper)
Heather Christle’s first collection, The Difficult Farm, marks the arrival of a powerful voice in younger American poetry. Gallows humor and a fascination with barnyard and other animals provide the collection with a light, whimsical tone that suits its dreamlike subject matter: “When I arrived at the motel room / the bear was already there, shivering, / because of the air conditioner / which we could not control.” Christle’s poems often reject conventional, received values and voice distrust in, or disregard for, technology, history, and medicine: “I love systems,” she writes, “like the weather, / and I love to adopt them on Monday and by Thursday / have renounced them altogether.” The poems in The Difficult Farm, like many of Christle’s peers’, are driven by free association rather than logical narrative, with transitions between thoughts and images often blurring together expressively. What distinguishes Christle’s work is her penchant for setting up our expectations and then dashing them, jolting us either into laughter or shock (“There are the growing / and the dying and then / there are your ribbons”), as well as the conviction, present throughout the book, that the imagination can never compensate for the fact that our lives are fleeting and there is no greater meaning beyond what we create. “Most of the world gets embroidered in the end,” she writes. “We know that. It’s a fact we carry around / like a small sack of seeds with a hole. / Most of our lives get forgotten.”
...we need your help. Confronting the many challenges of COVID-19—from the medical to the economic, the social to the political—demands all the moral and deliberative clarity we can muster. In Thinking in a Pandemic, we’ve organized the latest arguments from doctors and epidemiologists, philosophers and economists, legal scholars and historians, activists and citizens, as they think not just through this moment but beyond it. While much remains uncertain, Boston Review’s responsibility to public reason is sure. That’s why you’ll never see a paywall or ads. It also means that we rely on you, our readers, for support. If you like what you read here, pledge your contribution to keep it free for everyone by making a tax-deductible donation.
Vital reading on politics, literature, and more in your inbox
Readers Also Liked
Printing Note: For best printing results try turning on any options your web browser's print dialog makes available for printing backgrounds and background graphics.