I offer David Rivard’s new collection of poems Otherwise Elsewhere from Graywolf Press as part of a 6-step recovery program (yes, we poet-types are a bit too lazy for the usual twelve) on how to hazard wisdom in an age of the poetically glib:
- Use their words with impunity; hack them to deep rooted stumps that catch in the throat.
- Find a convincing swagger before breaking into a giddy song and dance number.
- If squeamish about the confessional, use a sharper scalpel and don’t be tentative.
- If you want “to be real in your soul” “pee against the mossed bark of Juniper pine” (“How Else to Say It”).
- Fear not your “sadly stubborn heart (“Slightly More Alone”); it may be all we have to cover the “distance between us” (“Otherwise Elsewhere”).
- If you want to see how, in this cynical hell of contemporary poetry, its possible to end a poem by quoting Virgil and begin said poem with the simple declaration, “I love You,” read Rivard’s marvelous poem “Forehead;” better yet, “cancel your appointment with faithlessness” (Master of the Offer”) and read the whole damn thing.