Forrest Gander

Pulitzer Prize Finalist, National Book Critics Circle Finalist

Reviewed by John Latta for Third Factory

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For the poem "Present Tense" if for nothing else (and there is plenty): it captures the jittery coagulate that is "the present," irreversible ecological failures beginning to occur (unstopped), the new U. S. imperium-blitzkrieg (unstopped), and, still, one's "private" gratitudes and morasses, one's noticings, unexpected beauty, feral and domestic:

By mid-morning thrushes go quiet in fingerling birches the hay field exhales two tons of water and someone who leaped into your life like a crown fire blows out in an ambulance trailing its hee-haw siren insects called death watches click behind the wall what happens to the virtuosity of feeling as it meets the mineral-hard quiddity of the world while half a continent of raptors funnels into the narrow corridor along Lake Ontario's edge or sweeps through the gash of Lake Champlain Valley toward Mount Defiance with your depression like a retinue of black centipedes was how you left Arkansas

Gander's poise (think of "weighing" each syllable) is nigh-perfect, the diction worthy a rodomontade (somewhere he writes "two sparrows titter in fescue"—I could repeat that all day), the concerns major. "What I want is simple enough: to combine spiritual, intellectual, emotional, and technical elements into a resistant musical form" is what Gander writes in
A Faithful Existence, (Shoemaker & Hoard, 2005). And: "Writing, I pass from time to space, from succession to juxtaposition. I write the poem in all directions at once, emphasizing not the stability of single words but the transition that emanates between them, or between it and its rings of association, rings of silence. My idea of meaning derives from the continuity of the transition, which is, for me, erotic." Eye Against Eye is saturated, too, with photographs by Sally Mann.