A Provisional Map of the Lost Continent: Poems by Gregory Mahrer is the Fordham Poets Outloud Winner for 2015. Mahrer’s work has been published in The New England Review, The Indiana Review, Green Mountains Review, Volt, Colorado Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review and elsewhere, as well as on the websites Poetry Daily and Verse Daily. Several of his poems have been nominated for Pushcart Prizes. In 2014, one of those poems, “Refrain,” received a Puschart Special Mention.
I found this to be a particularly difficult collection for myself. Some parts did catch with me others seemed to be too distant. That may be the purpose of this collection too. The poetry is heavily punctuated with and usually end with ellipses. It gives the sense of incomplete documentation, lost pages and sections of pages. Something that we in the future are looking back on and trying to piece together:
In the unsettled light we made camp and set about perfecting the maps… Within their gilded borders: the world we had left behind only wider
at the isthmuses and subject to revision…
There is a feeling of history, exploration, and discovery as man tries to map out new lands.
The collection pulls phrases together that are descriptive and add color and life to the reading. It is also fragmented, like many ancient texts, leaving the reader to insert, interpret, and discover additional meaning. I can fully appreciate Mahrer’s effort and direction, however, this collection remains a little out of my range. It happens. A few years ago when Eric Linsker’s award winning La Far was published, I was unable to get through it. It took over a year but once I finished it and understood it, it was well worth the effort. This collection requires the same type of effort and will yield the same type of reward.