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Hardcover Details
  • 10/2021
  • 9781639880607 1639880607
  • 128 pages
  • $21.99
Drifters

THE AUTHOR CLEARS HIS THROAT

 

A drift of snow, adrift in a sea of speculation,

turning over the flotsam and jetsam of the macro world,

speaking with Nano rising from and sinking back

into the abyss... . Though I don't much like Poe's

The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket,

I'm drawn to it, its locked-in adventure in the hold

of a whaling ship, the faithful dog turned savage,

mutiny, the final, fanciful emergence into a false

but beguiling Antarctica, a world that never was,

isn't, won't be. Somewhere in there, I'm.

Reviews
Joining incisive observation with scrupulous form, rare precision of language, and a welcome sense of play, this assured collection from Silverman (Report From the Sea of Moisture) lives up to its title, as its poems and their subjects drift through the messy complexity of life. Silverman opens in the lower orders of the food chain, offering inspired studies of the activities of ants (one “minces Chaplinesque” and “rummages / by feelers”), dragonflies, and eventually monkeys and a beached Nantucket whale. One standout considers, in vivid detail, the reproductive cycle of toads (“the eggs cook, make themselves pearls” until “ready to pop out in gluey strings”) while another considers flies dumped from a jar: “they look like raisins fallen /onto the table in the morning.”

Silverman’s poems of wasps and bug-eating geckos pin down instinctual behavior with such crisp clarity that by the time he moves on to humanity and our own instinctual behaviors, in the collection’s middle, readers will likely find themselves acutely aware of our own animal essence. The inviting family history of “Sumner”–recounted in sharply conversational language–captures the drift of lives and nations in the tumultuous 20th century. A wistful wit colors Silverman’s survey in couplets of a class reunion (“Some, flushed with all they’ve become, / Others, contentedly humdrum”), evocation of a mid-century brothel, while his detached depiction of the life and death of an unhoused couple—one of whom develops “a cough that stuck / to her like a wet leaf”—generates tremendous feeling despite his restraint.

Often crafted into inviting quatrains and octaves, with rhyme that offers consistent pleasure, surprise, and illuminating emphasis, the poems of Drifters range widely, in technique and topic. Still, they all examine life and how it’s truly lived: a thumbnail history in couplets of one family’s history with maids and housekeepers over decades doubles as an examination of class, race, and migrations. That exemplifies Silverman’s approach, which hones in on everyday detail to reveal so much more

Takeaway: An accomplished, wide-ranging collection that moves up the food chain with insight, wit, and observational power.

Great for fans of: Wallace Stevens, Edward Byrne.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A

Formats
Hardcover Details
  • 10/2021
  • 9781639880607 1639880607
  • 128 pages
  • $21.99

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