Review by Booklist Review
Seattle-area poet Agodon's finely crafted poems gleam like prisms, so clear is her language. In the heartbreakingly beautiful "I Don't Own Anxiety, But I Borrow It Regularly," she writes "Sometimes I wonder if there's one moment / when no one is dying, where we all exist / on this planet without loss". Although loss is, after all, our central human truth, Agodon's poems attempt a dialogue with providence, a certain bargain with the gravity of our passions so that we can live. In the hilarious "Near-Death Experience," an angel tells us, "I was wrong about desire--that Earth, while messy, / had the best sex and wi-fi", / . . .I left heaven with an unmade bed and enough / light to fill a stairway." Reading Agodon's poetry is finding oneself in a bustling village of joys. The everyday grace with which we attempt to live while tumbling through our days finds expression in this sinewy collection which seems to catch us before we fall, assuring us that it's going to be okay.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
In her piercing fourth collection, Agodon (Hourglass Museum) explores intertwined anxieties--a family history of mental illness, looming environmental collapse, the inadequacies of love--with care and understated humor. In "Unsustainable," she addresses a lover with foreboding and whimsy: "I want to keep you in my plastic/ Happy Meal heart, but what snaps open// stays on Earth forever, my center floating/ down a canal until it's swallowed by a seal." She vacillates between exploring family trauma and moments of genuine joy: "how once/ in Mexico, after I lost my wedding ring,/ I did a body shot off a woman/ I didn't know and how sticky she was/ and how the tequila made the night a little quieter/ and the stars made the beach feel like a church." Agodon has a talent for arresting titles. In "Magpies Recognize Themselves in the Mirror," bystanders at a mall watch with understanding as a woman experiences a mental health crisis: "And like that/ we were her flock in our black coats/ and white sweaters, some of us reaching our/ wings to her and some of us flying away." Despite the tragedies at the center of this book, Agodon captures the universality of dark emotions and offers a collection full of hope. (Apr.)
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Review by Library Journal Review
Few poets document our world with as much beauty and grace as Agodon (Hourglass Museum). In seven sections, Agodon's new collection examines such issues through the lens of a speaker who often feels broken herself, approaching her subject tangentially. Only a few poems focus directly on the climate change hinted at in the title, though it's a theme returned to often. Most poems center on a wife/mother making her way through a fractured life as she experiences many unexpected deaths, with two children gone young, one from choking on a balloon: "A degree in suicide? we swallowed it, / reloaded, / a master's degree in dying." Agodon has mastered the art of making each poem new through unexpected turns. Throughout, her love of life, in all its beauty and contradictions, offers a counterpoint to the massive challenges that lie ahead. "Till Death Shatters the Fabulous Stars" offers what could be the book's premise: "I'm devoted / to the broken / clamshells / climate / cockleshells." Agodon shows us why we must create a better world: "every day is also a miracle." VERDICT These stunning poems question what we as individuals can do to repair or at least survive our battered world. Highly recommended.--Doris Lynch, Monroe Cty. P.L., Bloomington, IN
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