her pendulous head, wept shrapneluntil her mother capped the fire
with her breast. She teeteredon the highwire of herself. She
lay down & the armies retreated, nevershowing their backs. When she unlatched
from the breast, the planes took off again.Stubborn stars refused to fall . . . Philip Metres has written a number of books and chapbooks, most recently A Concordance of Leaves (Diode, 2013), abu ghraib arias (Flying Guillotine, 2011), To See the Earth (Cleveland State, 2008), and Behind the Lines: War Resistance Poetry on the American Homefront Since 1941 (University of Iowa, 2007). His work has appeared widely, including in Best American Poetry, and has garnered two NEA fellowships, the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, four Ohio Arts Council Grants, the Anne Halley Prize, the Arab American Book Award, and the Cleveland Arts Prize. He teaches at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-11-17
- Reviewer: Staff
In his latest collection, Metres (To See the Earth) operates as if the Iraq War unfolded in the age of social media. Readers follow prisoners at the now-infamous Abu Ghraib, observe children amid a developing war, and see the effects of the U.S. government’s extraordinary renditions. The book opens with a record of a prisoner being interrogated. Over the course of a few pages information slowly drains away, redacted until nothing is left but punctuation marks. While the concept is interesting, the writing doesn’t really live up to the form and the redactions don’t reveal anything about the subject that most readers won’t already know from a decade of war and reporting on it. Oddly, in a great tonal shift, Metres leaves the war behind in favor of a section that explores the work of pioneering photographer Eadweard Muybridge. In beautiful couplets he offers small vignettes loosely based on Muybridge’s photos. Here, in “desire’s winding/stare,” a woman is “clothed only in smoke/ & gender lessons.” The moment is beautiful but quickly passes, almost like a dream in the midst of great catastrophe. Readers are only left with destruction and the PTSD of a decade of war, and in that space language does little to help. (Jan.)