Microreview Monday...on Tuesday. Again.

Areas of Fog

Joseph Massey
Shearsman, 2009

Massey's first proper collection bundles work from his brilliant chapbooks with new poems. Casting a transparent eyeball on Humboldt County, California, his style vibrates with tones of Niedecker, Schuyler, and a 21st-century American Basho. Such short, haiku-esque poems can go very wrong very quickly, but Massey makes it seem easy as breathing. Not simply "nature poems," these exacting observations of the physical world -- "moonlight a bat bats / above the / shattered plum blossoms" -- fulfill Emerson's charge of having “no covenants but proximities” in a most sublime manner. [Michael Schiavo]

Land of Amnesia

Joseph Bathanti
Press 53

In Land of Amnesia, Joseph Bathanti moves from Anson County dialect to biological specificity to spiritual erudition with grit and grace. The “Christ-haunted landscape" of this collection has a Catholic sensibility, seeing saints and monks among rural North Carolinians, the sacred in the profane. Bathanti’s poems are heartbreaking and profound, the language and observations nuanced and complex, as he engages with and honors the terrible and the beautiful in our everyday lives. [Debra Kaufman]