Poetry Comment 2.4

If you don’t know Alissa Quart’s poetry—and you definitely should—you may know her as the prose writer of Bootstrapped, Squeezed, and numerous other books about the economic struggles of ordinary Americans. (She’s also the executive director of the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, founded by Barbara Ehrenreich, which supports journalism about low-income people.) Her poems here are in a different vein, but have the toughness, humor, and barely suppressed rage that marks her prose. I love her eye for crazy mishmashes—in “Salt Lake Sonnet,” Utah, drying up under global heating, is a jumble of “biblical” geology, oil pipelines, and ski lifts, plus Spiral Jetty, the famous earthwork sculpture by Robert Smithson, and “Holy Water Café: where blondes eat sweets.” “Confidence Men” is a fuck-you to men who make ridiculous pronouncements as well as an ode to the insecurity and daring of youth. In “Meno Pause,” Quart writes, “My body is like Lit Crit.” (And don’t worry, it took me too a while to get the pun in “Our Bodies, Argento.”) Will the “binocular vision disturbance” of the aging body prove to be the “binocular vision” of the late-life artist? Maybe, if we are “so-called lucky.”

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