The word that come to mind when reading This Alaska by Carlie Hoffman are gritty and sometimes jarring. And occasionally dark. Surprising, with a swing towards shocking. Consider “Continuum,” a poem about grief, that begins with “My mother split each day open / like a gutted fish.” Add vivid and arresting to that word list.
She remembers childhood through not entirely rose-colored glasses, like where she buried the dead gulls. Her explanation for moving to New York City, a city with so many lunatics is that she sometimes becomes one of them. A visit to the zoo becomes a musing about a broken relationship. Eight years after she left, she watches a man sweeping the steps at her high school, and she hates him for not stopping to see her. (This longish poem, “Anniversary,” is my personal favorite in the collection, along with “Pact,” a poem about a desire to offer a small girl hope for the future.)
To continue reading, please see my post today at Tweetspeak Poetry.