The principle spiritual tenet in “Particle Piñata” is that all knowledge of the universe is united in an ever-shifting entity to which all people contribute and borrow, including the poet’s literary inspirations Baudelaire, Emerson, Whitman, and Joyce, and major figures from the poet’s own life, which include Milton Klonsky and Hunter Thompson. Primarily through the use of pun and other types of wordplay, Harrell’s poems establish linguistic relationships at the micro scale, between syllables in various languages, and at the macro scale, between hers and the works of Joyce and Baudelaire, and likens the behavior of the sacred whole of human knowledge to a mass of subatomic particles in perpetual cycles of unison and collapse.
Touching on religion, philosophy, particle physics, linguistics, and more heady concepts, Harrell’s collection is a cosmic, often esoteric whirlwind which seeks to bring the poet’s conception of a spiritual being to life. The style is pointedly erratic, even at times frenzied; consistent verb tenses, syntax, and connotations are flouted, upended, redefined. Yet there is a certain naturalness to the poetic discord, like the winds of a hurricane or flurry of a meteor shower. Nature is chaotic and unruly and, above all, free—and so are Harrell’s poems.
Takeaway: A cosmic, sophisticated collection that touches on spirituality, philosophy, and physics.
Great for fans of: Milton Klonsky, Delmore Schwartz.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A