by Dara Wier
Wave Books, $22 (cloth)
Dara Wier’s work has defied the often-entropic pattern of a poet’s career by growing more, not less, formally challenging throughout the years. And yet there is a distinct, even purposeful, relaxing of socio-temporal anxieties throughout her poetry, a marked absence of allusions to the who’s who of contemporary thought, let alone the modernist giants and their predecessors. While the lack of philosophical posturing, name-dropping and other navel-gazing tics is part of what makes Wier’s prolific body of work so attractive to readers (Selected Poems culls from eight full-length editions), it may also be what’s put a distance between her and other poets of her generation whose efforts are more overtly deconstructionist or intellectually acrobatic. The questions Wier raises often have more to do with the policing of libidinal drives than with aesthetics: “They were training me to wait and not want / what I’d lose if I asked for it. // I had to pretend I didn’t care / and this was against my nature. ” Much of her imagining involves physical sensation, tactility recalling the nineteenth-century rural English poet John Clare, to whom Wier pays tribute. Wier’s warm touch belies her procedural cunning and post-confessional derring-do, making her Selected Poems required reading for a new generation of poets—not only for its own abundance of merits, but also as a counterpoint to the swath of theory-driven, reader-alienating poetries that threaten to define, for better or for worse, this era.