I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Sometimes, I think that poetry is the art of finding the way to imbue every word with as much meaning as possible so that they are almost too rich to handle and reading them leaves you winded. Dwale accomplishes this handily in its chapbook Face Down in the Leaves.
The poet shows a mastery of language that balances between plain and overwrought, often coming out luscious and evocative. It uses this to wonderful effect in “Dirt Garden” with “[…] I killed them a little, / The crab-grass clumps, datura and nettle. “Time and time I commit these small murders, / To whose benefit?””. The work builds up this garden, and the reader can see the datura flowers and feel the crab-grass clumps; they take on meaning beyond just names of plants.
There are no explicit, themed sections within the collection, but all the same, one can tell that care was taken with the ordering of the works. Some time is spent in that dirt garden. Some time is spent with a lover. A brief time is spent in a complex feeling that’s not quite melancholy, not quite antipathy. These themes weave in and out of focus, never so strong as to keep individual poems from shining but still helping to form the collection into coherent work in its own right.
Dwale has brought together some truly outstanding work into one volume that I’m sure I’ll be rereading, studying, and dreaming about for a while to come. It was already one of my biggest inspirations, and this has only cemented that fact for me.