Reini-Grandell (Approaching the Gate, 2014) searches for moments of transformation in this poetry collection.
“For Your Information,” a late poem in this book, begins, “Today I found / your discarded banana peel / in the basement / on top of the dryer / removable lint trap / and realized // I must incite disorder.” Such instantaneous shifts from calm to chaos are common in this collection, which bears witness to life’s terrible, beautiful ability to collapse, explode, and refashion itself. There are persona poems that have the feel of folklore, such as “Figurative Beehives, Lower Silesia,” narrated by a one-legged beehive maker who mourns his father, who was lost to a distant war. These sit alongside more contemporary poems, such as “The Greening,” in which the speaker, breaking up a concrete slab in her backyard, meets her new neighbor, or “A Supermarket In Minnesota,” in which the speaker’s transgender partner is confronted by a religious woman in a grocery store. Topical poems, including one about Sandra Bland, an African-African woman who was found hanged in a Texas jail cell in 2015, and shorter lyrics about the wonders of nature and love round out this collection. There are combustive revelations in some works, as when a speaker’s muse skips town: “Now I’ve lost the fairy tale thread but think / this is a fable where someone is boiled / or burned or buried alive / before the transfiguring roar.” Reini-Grandell’s poems take many guises, from free verse to augmented sonnets and pantoums. Not every piece quite lands, but the variety will keep readers excited for what might come next. Mystical, incantatory pieces like “Geomancer” and “I Am A Bear” set a delightfully witchy tone, while more grounded narrative works evoke the greatest emotional responses. “Every Astonishing Day Of My Life” is a brilliant slideshow in 11 stanzas, which ends with this reflective ars poetica: “I still sit at the table. I still leave / out significant parts of my story, my sins. / I still marry my strange familiar / every astonishing day of my life.”
A singeing collection of surprises and epiphanies.