Many of us admire Prykryl for her work as an executive editor. New York Book Review. She was born in the former Czechoslovakia, grew up in Ontario and lives in New York. Her first book debuted rather casually; its name, respectively, After party (2016). His guest list is erudite and eclectic, with celebrities and semioticians appearing equally frequently. These verses flow in carefree and therefore charming etiquette (“How calmly you indulge my moods”); they have up their sleeves a graceful, adventurous and exciting sense of something that many poets don’t even dare to pay attention to: enjambment. But it is the presence of a brother who died 20 years ago that provides an emotional magnet.
When our speaker receives the advice at the end of the first section that is never uninteresting (“look the other way”), she also takes note of the archipelago long poem that makes up the entire second half of the book. gradually reveals a significant range of Prykryl’s lyrical intelligence. How can a book propelled by an intelligent and aristocratic mischief of tone end with lines of such ironic and intense beauty, on the wordless and ethereal image of “every pine tree / […] expressing his individual silence”? This is the movement that makes After party – in Hopkins’s terms – counter, original, meager and frankly strange. Despite the fact that quite a few poems betray too tender admiration for John Ashbery, the book does not lose its relevance.
The abundance of recurring titles in Regardless of (2019), the second book Covered, as if throws us into the thick of things, into the spraying slavery of the metropolis, into the urban landscape, which, it would seem, is “soaked with dark water repeatedly and repeatedly squeezed out.” The gust of wind that swept down the street was remembered as “the only voice just stating the obvious.” The weakest here, as in After partycrushed by overconfidence in vanity. Just as many of them exude dramatic and immense beauty.
With a seductive cover to boot (a Fauvist canvas by artist Emma Webster), the latest issue of Prikryl is flying at breakneck speed. Closer to the start midwood, a Fence Post speaker, after witnessing “a train that collided with a convoy / trucks”, observes how “each car and each car meshes exactly at the right time / like gears in a beautiful mechanism” – a chance phenomenon, not unlike the spectacular collisions and coincidences of various and disparate elements of a lyrical poem. And our poet keeps looking:
so they passed through each other, train and column,
they took some time
move through each other and then each went his own way
What we are seeing is almost a collision, almost a meeting of parts – but not quite. The poet tells us exactly how her lines will behave with each other; she describes exactly how her lyrics can always “confront the intellect / Almost succeed” (Wallace Stevens).
In “Our Second”, the speaker from the sea gazes intently at “a closed stream / the size of a necklace”. Separated from her friends as they hobble along the shore, the speaker expresses and suffers miscarriage anxiety. Uncertainty and cunning ambiguity abound. Who exactly is “worried that I will solve this / in a simple way”? Only one thing is certain:
one thing all the time
enters into another, becoming not one with it
but takes his place, and over and over, over
Again and again. As with previous Prikryl collections, repetition is the driving force here. However, some phrases are so carefully chosen and combined into new lyrical permutations that we can only dimly hear them repeated. Note the series of 24 interspersed poems—the tree apostrophe series—which gives the book its title; “Midwood 1” resembles an archaic fragment:
From the clothes of the earth
There’s a place in the ravine
this is the deepest
Erase it. “Midwood 1” seems less fragmented, more germline; under “Midwood 12” we recognize something similar, but much higher and stronger:
what if what
meanwhile the trees are doing their thing
end of august, looks like they need a moisturizer
what if what appears is what is here
The trees in this series are reserved soothsayers (“you stand looking tenderly / shaking your heads down / preparing us, your very slow branches say little”) and fickle diplomatic administrators (“suspends visas / winds and binds the seasonal envoy / to another country” ); these are corrupted souls (“they are like me / annoying fighters / in constant danger of making the wrong choice”) and pure souls (“No one makes of sibilants / such a soft thing as you / do”); they, after all, trees (“In the open air, trees behave differently.”) Individual works in this series are mysterious and therefore worthy of praise.The length of the series is its problem: it begins to seem tense.
The book’s most powerful verses demonstrate Covered’s self-fulfilling gift to light a match on the side of the most banal and banal speech:
I sensed what you were about to say
You know how much I loved you and I said, oddly enough, yes
but were confused as to why
Although it increasingly seems nonsensical to say that the lyric verses demonstrate or demonstrate the “logic of dreams”, we often find this speaker laughing while awake. A poem like “The Guardianship Hearing” has in abundance the features of the scene and details characteristic of a dream, the arbitrary dramatic characters of the dream:
Mom and I are whispering, huddled together in the stands, which run around the entire perimeter.
conference table, behind the Czech supermodel, who received custody
my son because she is his mother
But this, as our speaker knows, is not entirely true; she remembers the “delivery ward”,
and when the anesthetist showed up with his little bucket-shaped tray,
I say it myself. In fact, his eyebrows go up, and my bespectacled obstetrician says to him:
She said no and then the boy splashed and I thought well
I cheated and she, his wife, has my child, it’s natural
Dreams are a setting close in spirit to these unpunctuated verses, many of which appear to be dispatches telegraphed from a restless, sometimes panicky mind. If Prykryl lost his elegant fun After party and surrounding dirt Regardless ofshe applied for midwood useful everyday life. Our speaker wakes up; she goes to sleep; in between, she draws insight from hardened habit. “The surprise was my own property,” she announces. Covered book joins a consortium of other excellent titles published this year (another one is a book by Sandra Lim). curious thing) that take on the mystery and wonder of middle age, the fact that “the hill we came down from is as steep as the hill ahead of us”.
But a less obvious subject midwood it’s surreal to be a parent. Our speaker is the mother of a little boy; groups of children appear willingly and everywhere:
And climbing down the hill
steep, like a scree, soft loam under dry leaves interspersed with standing figures, trees,
I walked behind the school groups and followed them against my will.
uphill, running under a chair lift
Amanda who was friendly
and unattractive in an almost fascinating way, riding up to my right
uncomfortable with her weight
There were two slender women in leather jackets
get wet, teach children to swim
in the paddling pool showing me your faucets
In this poem “Field Campaign” (one of the most poignant and resonant in the book), we witness Prykryl’s estrangement vision (“soft loam under dry leaves punctuated by standing figures”) and her ability to discern (“Amanda, who was friendly / and in an unattractive, almost bewitching way”). The narrative in the poem of a fabulous, mysterious investment in a group of schoolchildren on a ski trip (“against my will”) is as much about the otherworldly experience of creating another person as any poem that contains an explicit description of the birth:
I felt too closed, not wanting to dive
though down that slope
I took a small jacket
carry the rest of the day with me in case I find its owner
Elsewhere, we glimpse memories and scenes from the life of a child speaking before birth: a life that seems not only to be an ancient kingdom, but another land where people speak and write in a different language: a sensation that Prykryl stunningly conjures up when she imagines “letters”. you sent me […] folded into a box for a whole day of riding. Another poem recalls how a close interlocutor ran “a finger along my back, thigh or arm, slow words.”
I think there is no light or sound in the correspondence
especially useful around others, in the car, at the dinner table
This little pas de deux looks like a page torn out of the poet’s first book.
All in all, I can’t help but feel that midwood has the distraction of something overgrown that would benefit from more aggressive pruning. But in individual verses there is such an invulnerable coolness and brilliant angularity that I, too, cannot help but admire how confidently they distinguish Prykryl from her contemporaries. midwoodpoems do not invite, do not shock, do not sum up, do not seduce or console; they “pass through each other” and, eluding our grip and our assumptions, go “their own way.” They resist us at every turn.
Perhaps, only for poetry, this assessment could be considered the subject of deep admiration. I’m starting to remember what Prykryl herself once wished, in an interview with paris review, for lyric poetry to be more broadly and firmly defined as “composition which is not amenable to mass recognition or penetration”. The title of the poem in this book is “Why not”: it analyzes “every shift / in my sleigh / position”,
when I accelerated in that direction and thought
enjoy it means
look at it,
so I looked
It seems to me that “Why not” is an expression full of encouragement, maybe a slight risk; inside and about our poetry, I think I hope to hear more.
The last poems of Nathan Blansett appear in Ploughshare, New criterion, american chordatesas well as southern view.