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In Heather Brager's skilled poetry, the little dances of the day are set up by her cerebral apprehension of them – the smallest daily occurrences are her prompts, and as she explores the ordinary her ruthless command of language conveys more in a terse stanza than most people can convey in a meandering journal entry. In this too shall pass, "the sky outside is sagging impending fall/as they throw stones, pressing on/they wear the cold armor of disquiet" – here not a word is wasted, each precise in depicting the stark gray oppression of conflict. The same disciplined language is found in the softer, more internal reflections in no regret, and morning: "lips drawn in/a wilting rose" – we know in seven syllables the feelings at the core of the subject's musings. As much as Brager is cerebral and disciplined, she is acutely attentive, both to the couching of a poem in the natural environment and to snaring the most minute and seemingly near-random associations that float just on the surface of her cognition. In what this reader thinks is her most powerful poem, the scintillant, she captures elements that, stitched together, surprise and astonish in their unexpectedly lucid connections: "she was found there once, crushed/velvet and delicate porcelain debris//shards sinking through melting ice/of judgments bent to compulsion." In Heather Brager's rich, skeptical, analytical work, questions linger even as she settles her poems into the ordinary routines and activities we can all recognize. In spite of this restlessness and sometime discontent, there beats the heart of a romantic and lyric writer. Combined with her technically fine sense of enjambment and the excellent use of titles as an integral part of her poetry, her work is distinctive and compelling. There is much more to come from this splendid poet.



SPIRACLE JOURNAL Volume I Issue No. 1  

Re. In. Vent.

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