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Never: Poems

by Jorie Graham

ISBN 0060084723 / 9780060084721 / 0-06-008472-3
Publisher Ecco
Language English
Edition Softcover
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Book summary

Jorie Graham's collection of poems, Never, primarily addresses concern over our environment in crisis. One of the most challenging poets writing today, Graham is no easy read, but the rewards are well worth the effort. While thematically present, her concern is not exclusively the demise of natural resources and depletion of species, but the philosophical and perceptual difficulty in capturing and depicting a physical world that may be lost, or one that we humans have limited sight of and into. As she notes in "The Taken-Down God": "We wish to not be erased from the / picture. We wish to picture the erasure. The human earth and its appearance. / The human and its disappearance."

With a style that is fragmented and somewhat whirling--language dips and darts and asides are taken--Graham stays on point and presents an honest intellect at work, fumbling for an accurate understanding (or description) of the natural world, self-conscious about the limitations of language and perception.

If you open and close your eyes
there should be a difference, no, in the way
the thing seen is--in its weight?--and then
what the thinking has begun to make ... because there is, on it, which we've
somehow
introduced, this wash which is duration....
("Philosopher's Stone")
Never is a brilliant example of the struggle to preserve the physical, both in mind and in art. While this notion applies to all artistic endeavors, Graham's poems argue implicitly for preservation since our means of documentation are faulty. --Michael Ferch [via]