Microreview: Rob Schlegel, The Lesser Fields
July 1, 2011
Jul 1, 2011
1 Min read time
Transition and transience govern the obsessions in this first collection.
Rob Schlegel, The Lesser Fields, Center for Literary Publishing, $16.95 (paper)
“Isn’t it all— / the before and after of every gesture—remotely elegant?” Rob Schlegel asks midway through one brief, image-centered lyric in The Lesser Fields. Transition and transience govern the obsessions in this first collection: the shift from life to death, the passage of time and season. Most of the poems here present a kind of field in themselves, directing a passage through objects and tight-bound images for the reader. The effect is syntactically sinuous, at times dislocating, but also rhapsodic: “Tonight, her name is a leaf covering / my left eye. The right I close / for the wind to stitch shut with the thread // from the dress she wore into the grave / where the determined roots of the tree / are making a braid around her body.” The book’s three sections (“The Lesser Fields,” “November Deaths,” and “Lives”) allow the poet a range within his largely pastoral focus. Even when presenting a stark mortality, he retains the gorgeous heft of his language. Schlegel’s poetics turn on the evocative power of certain words, a belief in their specific alchemy: “He set out to find / A poultice of red stones in the pond— / Its cool republic of dead leaves.” Braced against the winter austerity of many of these “fields,” the effect is one of powerfully wrought language, and of a mind that looks for sturdy unions between speech and environment. Throughout, Schlegel performs these acts with consciousness and aplomb: he acknowledges, “I am in the world, but / With pauses.”
While we have you...
...we need your help. You might have noticed the absence of paywalls at Boston Review. We are committed to staying free for all our readers. Now we are going one step further to become completely ad-free. This means you will always be able to read us without roadblocks or barriers to entry. It also means that we count on you, our readers, for support. If you like what you read here, help us keep it free for everyone by making a donation. No amount is too small. You will be helping us cultivate a public sphere that honors pluralism of thought for a diverse and discerning public.
July 01, 2011
1 Min read time