New last year from icehouse poetry, Allison LaSorda’s Stray is the rare debut collection that emerges brimming and whole. LaSorda’s poetry is both specimen and magnifying glass, her speaker displaced by death, the strangeness of becoming, and the realization she is at times more stray animal than rooted human being. LaSorda invokes the natural world―lionfish in a cloudy tank, an eight-point buck among the trees, passerines, mollusks―to tease out the more delicate questions of how to move forward after a loss, how to grow up inside a body.
In Twoism, Ali Blythe deftly moves across the line between witnessing difference and duality as if it is “a twin sheet suspended between us.” This is best represented in the twinning and twining of Blythe’s lines that on the surface explicitly state something, while layering a subtle, alternative meaning on top. As we find in the haunting poem, “Shattered,” the first stanza offers an image that is at once beautiful and horrifying: “your eyes look like / beach glass fresh / from a pounding.” The push and pull of such lines leads readers along a path which constantly bifurcates without ever separating. Wrapping your mind around that idea represents a large part of what appeals in Blythe’s poetry: the forward marching letters moving along, jarring against the elation of soaring into metaphor; the palpable and unresolved tension between syntagmatic force and paradigmatic pleasure; the physical act of reading; and the mental uprush of understanding.