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by Kate Greenstreet,
Ahsahta Press, $19 (paper with DVD)
“I don’t daydream,” Kate Greenstreet said in an interview about The Last 4 Things. “Even when I’m thinking about the future . . . I’m working out details.” For a poet who claims not to daydream, her writing unfolds with a certain dreaminess. Yet, as she suggests, hers is a poetry preoccupied with details: the concrete, physical materials of future and past. In the title poem of her haunting second book, Greenstreet is both nostalgic for and irreverent toward the past: “Listen, keep in touch, I know you won’t.” Means of travel such as boats, trains, and bridges recur throughout the poem, whose landscapes are filled with bodies of water, fires, holes, rain, and the color black. Returns, departures, and journeys interweave dizzyingly, as if to suggest you can neither go forward nor back, only roam through a limbo-like space where living happens: friendship, domesticity, childhood games, filial devotion, romantic entanglement and disentanglement, grief, fear. “Dear within,” she writes, “I was seeing from a distance. / It stayed small for quite a while.” The book’s other long poem, “56 Days,” is a sort of photographer’s diary, but one skeptical of both the photograph and the calendar as means of keeping time: “The lie the camera tells about that moment / is a better reminder than the memory of the moment could have / been.” Accompanying the book is a DVD of the poet reading selected passages. Her warm, slow reading style captures both the levity and the sorrow in the work.
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