Book Review: Fragile Acts by Allan Peterson
McSweeney’s Poetry Series, 2012. Poetry.
Review by Debrah Lechner
In the last decade or so, McSweeney’s Books has become a celebrated publisher of fiction and children's books. Their much-anticipated entry into publishing poetry occurred this year, 2012, with four books planned, of which Fragile Acts is the second. It is a beautifully bound book. The publishers wish to create books that are as pleasurable to hold in the hand as they are to read. Allan Peterson's poetry is very much worthy of this honor.
There’s an underlying rowdiness to Peterson’s poetry, and an unruly refusal to draw an obvious conclusion or release any possibility from consideration, no matter how unlikely. This is weighted and contrasted by his precise consideration to form. “The Common Insists” is an example of this:
In spite of the overwhelming reliability of things,
the wind making rivulets on my sleeve same as window glass,
the same rocks shaped by the same reasons on Mars,
I am like a cricket singing to another sore voice. I hear it,
but faithful to symmetry, I don’t move closer.
It may not be singing to me. Movement may lead to dissolution.
Stars could make up new animals. The dragonfly
might chase the swallow as it did today in warning.
I am living at the edge of light looking out
over water that touches Mexico. The edge of the continent
holds hands with inlets and I mention them over and over
as if no one listened the last time. The common insists.
Lynx and orchids for some. Underwinter life below the ice.
From here I wave to you like polishing the air.
Allan Peterson's poetry has been published in numerous literary magazines, including issue 2 of Hayden’s Ferry Review! He has received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and has been nominated for the Pushcart prize several times. Read more of Allan Peterson's poetry and more reviews of his work on the author's website.