There is a hum to this collection, an intensity that feels quiet at first but grows as you spend time balancing your own thoughts & feelings on the poise and precision of Charles’s poems. Like walking through a bee-loud glade & then putting your ear against the hive. Think of Merwin. Think of Ocean Vuong. Think of Ilya Kaminsky.
— From A Year and Other Poems
From the celebrated author of feeld comes a formally commanding third collection, dexterously recounting the survival of a period suffused with mourning.
Jos Charles's poems communicate with one another as neurons do: sharp, charged, in language that predates language. "A scandal / three cartons red / in a hedge / in / each the thousand eye research of flies." With acute lyricism, she documents how a person endures seemingly relentless devastation--California wildfires, despotic legislation, housing insecurity--amid illusions of safety. "I wanted to believe," Charles declares, "a corner a print leaned to / a corner can save / a people." Still the house falls apart. Death visits and lingers. Belief proves, again and again, that belief alone is not enough.
Yet miraculously, one might still manage to seek--propelled by love, or hope, or sometimes only momentum--something better. There is a place where there are no futile longings, no persistent institutional threats to one's life. Poems might take us there; tenderness, too, as long as we can manage to keep moving. "A current / gives as much as it has," writes Charles--despite fire, despite loss.
Harrowing and gorgeous, a Year & other poems
is an astonishing new collection from a poet of "unusual beauty and lyricism" (New Yorker