A swansong for the millennium has just been written and none too soon; or rather, an evensong for late capitalism’s annihilation.
Poems preoccupied with geography, for the impatient reader, can feel less like landscapes and more like land mines to be avoided.
Geoffrey O’Brien — critic, columnist, essayist, editor-in-chief of The Library of America, and poet — is both a preservationist and an elegist, savoring what can be saved, acknowledging what will always be lost.
Not only fragments and filaments, but also liturgies and litanies embed themselves in Joseph Donahue’s Terra Lucida, a chain of poetic assemblage that both embodies and breaks free of given notions of the long poem. While the formal designs of that thematic behemoth can be ascribed to his project, Donahue’s abrupt transitions, radical breaks, and vertiginous frames disrupt the cohesion and narrative continuity on which the genre depends. Rarely in contemporary poetry has the couplet served so astonishingly as a centrifugal mechanism, as bonding agent to the lines, serving to contain and unite its pressurized contents — “all those/tatters of the creation” mediated “in this aberrant rendition” — which seem at any moment threaten to break apart.