When Courtney Faye Taylor begins her stunning debut collection, Concentrate—sat between her aunties thighs, getting her hair pressed—I am immediately transported back to my own childhood. Adolescence is a time of innocence and curiosity, as well as a lesson in contrasts: the sting of beauty upkeep and the confidence of a fresh hair-do, the validation of attention and the safety of invisibility. From the book’s opening section, Taylor makes it clear that Concentrate will stretch the expanse of what a poetry collection is allowed to do.
A hologram is an illusion. You think you’re looking at something three-dimensional and lifelike, but what you see is only an image, a reconstruction of reality rather than reality itself. What could be a more fitting image to encapsulate the illusoriness, isolation and distance that pervade collective life in this post-truth, post-Covid era—one in which facts are subsumed by beliefs and a screen avatar can stand in for a physical body? In her most recent collection of poems, The Vanguards of Holography, Annie Christain creates a pervasive sense of disconnection and disembodiment.
Love brings death closer. The collapsing space between is the setting of Irene Silt's My Pleasure (Deluge Books, 2022). Silt’s poems occupy the protracted time of wanting and waiting, elaborating the delay between desire and arrival—consummation of love or death. Illuminations strobe over a shadow world where oppositions melt inside one another:
Teeter, Alidio's fourth full-length poetry book, marks the apex of a language poet’s work, where making occurs alongside documenting but does not extract from it and in which hearing surrounds language but does not acquire, master, or own it... meandering through or remixing affect and archive, never stagnating or calcifying into that which is mappable.