Be With, New Directions

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Craig Morgan Teicher for National Public Radio Book Reviews

Forrest Gander's life partner, the poet C.D. Wright, died suddenly a little more than two years ago, and this book is one result or record of the aftermath of that loss. In poems that are utterly naked and bereft, elegies, apologies, could-have-beens, Gander grieves and wonders about what's left in his life. "For a loss that every other loss fits inside/ Picking a mole until it bleeds/ As the day heaves forward on faked determinations/ If it's not all juxtaposition, she asked, what is the binding agent?/ Creepy always to want to pin words on 'the emotional experience.'" There is so much pain in this book — perhaps too much, almost too much — but what is poetry for if not this? And there's more life in one of these dark words than in most entire books. Reading this book may hurt, but it will help people to keep living through what they thought they could never survive.