ANXIPHEN by Octávio  Dostroevitch


Email this review


A debut collection of prose poems explores feelings of frustration and isolation.

Anxiety seems such a constant presence in the current age that it can be difficult to know whether its sources are public or personal. In this slim volume of poems, Dostroevitch shows that it may not matter. In the apocalyptic opener, “Tales Gate,” the speaker worries over his lack of agency in a quickly deteriorating world: “Wish bones left in the western sun waiting for their habits to become useful in another life, another day passes by and it feels like there’s no way out, another day passes by and we’ve run out of time.” “Ample” has a more detached, frenetic tone, full of absurdist imagery and leaps in thought: “Double-sided gillies I’m doing drugs in Rome and wearing pink pajamas to my home in El Salvador, hope I don’t get shot.” “Tribal” is a neurotic romantic poem about how afraid the poet is to be left alone, though he eventually comes to the conclusion that love is worth it: “I said to her, I choose this, I want this because I love you, I love you, I love you.” From the motivational prompts of “Nurturing” to the accusatory anguish of “Transparent” to the clipped resignation of “Incoherent,” Dostroevitch removes the context of daily life and offers poems that twitch and scream like exposed nerves. The poet’s maximalist style has a somewhat barreling quality, rolling ever onward in long, serpentine sentences and rarely letting up until the poem’s end. Though working in prose and not verse, he has not abandoned all consideration of meter and rhyme, as evident in the skillful first line of the book’s final poem, “Pretentious”: “Ferocious and unbounded by eons of travesty, longing even before the consumption of slavery, listening to the emperor discuss his negligence and hopes for a reality worth majesty and this is honestly a laughable concept.” While intriguing imagery pops up now and again, it is difficult to get any sense of the physical world in which the speaker (or speakers) exists. Everything reads as metaphor, but the metaphors don’t carry much emotional weight when the specific problems—as existential as they often seem to be—go unnamed.

A dramatic but sometimes opaque volume of poetry.

Pub Date: Aug. 23rd, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-73293-080-3
Page count: 116pp
Publisher: Arete Patriarch
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:


IndieFLICKERING KINGDOMS by Jeffrey Grinnell
by Jeffrey Grinnell
IndieCatching A Glimpse by Donald Davis
by Donald Davis