“the little Mars rover”: Matthew Rohrer’s “There Is Absolutely Nothing Lonelier”

photo (74)A couple weeks ago, Mr. O and I were able to go see The Martian in the theatre (a rare treat); I absolutely loved the book and heartily endorse the movie. There was a catch, however: now I want to re-read the book, and since this is the season when my desire to read all the books smashes up my need to knit all the things—Houston, we have a problem.

To satisfy my sci-fi craving, first I tried to convince our four-year-old to watch WALL-E, but no dice; he’s preemptively scared of most movies. You’re thinking that maybe I should just look forward to the next Star Wars, but I say unto you: thrice bitten, still shy (and still going, but that’s beside the point).

So then I started thinking about poetry, and while I continue to commend Tracy K. Smith’s Life on Mars to you, I have a new poem for your perusal. I owe a tip of the hat to poet Simeon Berry on this one, who posted a link to Matthew Rohr’s poem “There Is Absolutely Nothing Lonelier” a few days ago.

You will never read a JPL press release quite the same way again.

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Recommended Reading: Simeon Berry’s Ampersand Revisited

IMG_4494Simeon Berry’s Ampersand Revisited* is a curious, revelatory collection, confessional, lyric, and highly detailed.

[Full disclosure: Mr. Berry is the friend of a friend.]

The book is a bildungsroman in prose-poem form, heavily infused with philosophy, and it’s completely fascinating. Dense and carefully wrought, these three long poems explore the speaker’s questioning about almost everything, including family, sex, communication, and language.

It’s completely fascinating, and I say that as someone who is  not particularly enamored of the bildungsroman, especially the white male bildungsroman (I have, on this site, admitted to loathing The Catcher in the Rye). But in this book the speaker is focused not only on himself, but on his family, caring deeply about what they make of the world, though he’s not always sure what to do with the information at his disposal.

It’s an intense reading experience, and one that I think I’ll need to repeat to get the most out the collection. If you’re a fan of Anne Carson’s Glass, Irony, and God or Lyn Hejinian’s experimental My Life (which I haven’t read since college, but was viscerally brought to mind here), I recommend reading Ampersand Revisited.

Ampersand Revisited is the winner of the 2013 National Poetry Series.  Monograph, which is forthcoming this month, won the 2014 National Poetry Series. You can read the first few pages of Ampersand Revisited here.

* I received a copy of this book from the author for review purposes, which did not affect the content of my review.