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The urgency: Dense and dazzling as carpet pages, the poems in this collection salvage and repurpose ultratraditional formal elements and well-worn subjects to comment on the palimpsestic nature of language, excavating the layers of violence and resistance it registers and illuminating spaces in which the tongue refuses to submit.

How I felt reading it: Like the poet was leading me on a tour of a sacred space and giving me permission to experience its features with my eyes, ears, tongue, throat, hands.

Where I read it: In my living room, surrounded by my collection of derelict taxidermy mounts, on a snow day.

Lines that destroyed me:

From “Flat as a Flitter”:

………….On God’s own mountain,
………….
poor people drink bad water, and the heart

………….of the Lord is a seam of coal gouged out
………….to fuel the light in other places.

From “Nicodemus Makes an Analysis”:

………….Thesis: That each of his fingers is a page
………….from a water-sodden book—the meanings
………….delicate, on the verge of being torn apart,
………….rendered unreadable. That his face

………….is the face that the wind wears when it carries rain
………….or scratches the thunder purple and blue.

Gif that describes this book: 

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Pairs well with: Bluegrass music, Anglo-Saxon riddles, abandoned churches, instructional videos on calligraphy.

The final word: I wish I had been able to assign Scriptorium in the undergraduate workshop on traditional poetic forms I taught this past fall. Range’s engagement with form utterly obliterates the (seemingly widely held) notion that formal poetry is merely a showcase for writers with virtuosic vocabularies and pocket rhyming dictionaries.

Buy it here <3 

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Andy Nicole Bowers studies and teaches at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she serves as the Juniper Fellow in Poetry. Her fascinations include still lifes, illustrated anatomies, cabinets of curiosities, dioramas, and reliquaries. Her recent work has appeared in Big Big Wednesday and Structo.