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  • kjoannerixon

Space Struck

Paige Lewis is a poet I first became aware of on twitter. I knew who they were before I'd read any of their poetry, because they were dating (and then married) Kaveh Akbar, one of the first poets I followed on twitter back when I was trying to shape a twitter feed into something bearable by filtering all the news and drama through the eyes and mouths of poets.

This was a good strategy, but I went about it haphazardly, and so I learned about Lewis first through selfies taken at readings and salons, and then only after through links to their poems. I'm not sure they're my favorite poet, still. They have a tendency to maybe not take themself as seriously as I do. Their poetry is surreal, and I often come away feeling like I don't quite know what it's about, but I don't know if it's because I'm not accessing the message or emotion in their work or if I'm just distracted by the brilliance and vivacity of their metaphors.

Brilliance is perhaps not a bad thing. I did like SPACE STRUCK, and thought it went quite well with brewing coffee in the morning, standing at the window reading a poem to the rain while the hot water did its magic. I quite like "The Moment I Saw a Pelican Devour," which is also a great example of Lewis' style:

The Moment I Saw A Pelican Devour

a seagull--wings swallowing wings--I learned

that a miracle is anything that God forgot

to forbid. So when you tell me that saints

are splintered into bone bits smaller than

the freckles on your wrist and that each speck

is sold to the rich, I know to marvel at this

and not the fact that these same saints are still

wholly intact and fresh-faced in their Plexiglass

tomb displays. We holy our own fragments

when we can...

I also really like "Turn Me Over, I'm Done On This Side," which is a bit too long to quote in full but in which I saw my own coping mechanisms for grief:

I believe those who believe that the greatest comedians

are the ones who've suffered most. Saint Lawrence

cracked jokes while being roasted alive. There

were so many storms the year I turned five, I forgot what

our windows looked like unboarded. After Hurricane Andrew,

I watched from the porch as my brother canoed into

a downed wire. I wonder if we name storms because

naming is the only power we're left with. Give me more time

and I'm sure I could make this funny.

Another thing I love about Lewis' work is the way they play around with form. There's not a lot of traditional form work in this book--no sonnets or sestinas I spotted--but there's a satisfyingly tidy sense of space in each poem. Like in "The Moment I Saw A Pelican Devour," Lewis uses titles to good effect, and the whimsical surrealism of the content of their poems is a sharp contrast to the precise, deliberate form. They are fond of couplets tethered in length that contain sentences tumbling along so that it would be easier to draw the silhouette of the poem than to select just a few lines to quote.

Here's a terrible picture of part of another of my favorites:

If you like this one, you'll like the book, I think.


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