We are a public forum committed to collective reasoning and the imagination of a more just world. Join today to help us keep the discussion of ideas free and open to everyone, and enjoy member benefits like our quarterly books.
Laura Solomon, The Hermit, Ugly Duckling Presse, $14.00 (paper)
In “Masculine / Feminine,” one of the many shorter lyrics that populate The Hermit, Laura Solomon states, “I dreamt of a poem in which I mastered all my feelings.” But these poems are better thought of as a record of consciousness when feelings take over, unfettered and given free reign: absent the rigid structure of straightforward logic, they float between admission and omission while creating an emotional map of an interior life that struggles to come to terms with the self in the context of others. Through airy and sensual language, Solomon tenderly grapples with problems of identity and perception in poetic lines charged with the dangers and pleasures of emotional life. “Philadelphia,” one of several longer poems that anchor the collection, charts a truly lyric progression, a narrative that builds without concern for getting the story straight, interested instead in evoking and enunciating the right expressive pitch in an intricate sequence: “everything / tastes better when it’s precious and you / bear in mind daily / historically how many / protons had to collide in time / to make you you.” Here we’re treated to the kind of minute attention that enriches and broadens our view of the intricate loci of our identities. Throughout the book, Solomon enacts a subtle struggle with identity that is couched more in emotional reality than in categorical constructs. She gracefully records “this song of love for now and nothing,” acknowledging the ways in which all understanding is both mutable and everlasting.
Vital reading on politics, literature, and more in your inbox. Sign up for our Weekly Newsletter, Monthly Roundup, and event notifications.
In his new book, philosopher William MacAskill appears to value humanity’s long-term survival far more than preventing short-term suffering and death. His arguments are shaky.
In her new book, Danish poet Olga Ravn writes with open love, pity, and compassion for her strange yet familiar creations.
Draconian individual punishment distracts from systemic change and reinforces the cruelest and most racist system of incarceration on the planet.