Poetry Review — Time Being

Time Being: Poems by Oni Buchanan is published by the Kuhl House of the University of Iowa Press.  The Kuhl House Poets combine the best of dedicated craft and contemporary vision. This provocative series reawakens readers to a fresh consideration of the possibilities of language and feeling by publishing work that is formally and verbally inventive, adventurous work that takes its own path outside established routes of either traditions or experimental poetry. Buchanan has published three previous books of poetry, including What Animal. She is the founder and director of Ariel Artists.

Using split lines, gapped lines, and panhandled four-line stanzas, Buchanan creates poetry that encourages thought and depth.  The capital letter of the physical “sentence” is buried in the midline, forcing the reader to process the differences in line breaks and complete thoughts.  The result is a pleasant scramble to complete ideas and develop a mental picture.  One of my favorite parts comes very early on in the collection:

and people half-assing | the beating down of some
representational animal | stubbornly

metaphoric animal | to achieve a low-quality
leak of generic | drugstore candy —


At the center of the collection is a long, twelve-page,  sort lined poem that creates a rhythm of a freight train — Strong, almost mechanically punctuated rhythm that pulls through the pages with precision and ease.

The collection closes with more traditional style poems of summer, warmth, gardens, and closes with the very touching title poem.  Buchanan captures both poetry and experimental style in a near-perfect balance.  An enriching read.

Available: 15 October 2020

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