Post & Rail

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Lost Horse Press (2018)

Lost Horse Press Announces Idaho Prize

I’m fascinated by the formal deftness of these couplets—three per page of almost exactly the same length (without word-processing assistance)—which are, yes, a set of fence rails (and I love the invisible, stolid posts). There are readers who would find that sort of strategy suspect: the idea that a formal or structural device could shape a collection in a meaningful way. But in this case, it is so very well done. The collection’s personal, at least historically personal—family history, in which we get to know an evermore silent coal miner father and a eerily silent-but-communicative mother, as well as the fences, literal and figurative, that keep them separate and together. The family is the fence and the fence is the family; we’re on one side, and we’re on the other side of those rails. Add to this certain aspects of astronomical physics (black holes, the big bang, the sound of the universe speaking), and the book is both modest and immensely ambitious. Finally, in regards to a blind evaluation: most of the way through the manuscript, I’m unaware of the poet’s gender. I gather, from a later poem, that the poet may be a woman, but I’m not ready to bet yet. There’s something wonderful about that. 

Robert Wrigley, Judge, 2017 Idaho Prize for Poetry