In the Pure Block of the Whole Imaginary
Richard Meier's third book presents the intimate and intricate networks of daily life in prose poems that blur sensory details with quotidian narratives. Christian Hawkey writes, "[each poem] is nearly as fragile and complex and impure as the networks and systems we live in, or beside." The poems themselves have no titles, are held together in sections which are labeled by the first lines of the poems they contain, and make use of a variation of the New Sentence—introduced by Language poets and most notably by Lyn Hejinian in her autobiographical work My Life. From "[Tried once to open the door and go out into the street, under a puffy sky]"
The mutability on which we'd meant to love conquered with a process dark and cold, fusing the division we had meant to choose. When was it she had dug into the rotten shell of the English walnut with a powerful thumb and turned them both green? A laundry basket struggled down the street in the arms of a man. The bark of an elm on bare skin was smooth from these distances. It wasn't enough anymore to say we felt diminished.
The details of the poems accumulate to create a moving and intricate portrait of the speaker and his surroundings. Further, the richness of the work speaks to, as Hawkey notes, "a reparative opulence that attends to acts of naming and unnaming as the first ethics of daily life."
This book review originally appeared in American Poets.