Reviews

What It Means To Be Human

Peggy Thompson

In 218, Geist published a poem titled “Grief” by Geoff Inverarity, and an unusual thing happened. Readers shared it with people they knew who were grieving. “Grief’s a bastard / turns up no notice on the doorstep whenever / moves in doesn’t shower doesn’t shave / won’t do dishes / dirty laundry / eats badly spends hours in the bath- room / keeps you awake half the night.” Geist also shared another poem, “My Mother’s Haunting,” from the same collection. In the poem, the speaker comes home after his mother’s death to find that she has labelled everything: the spare bedding (dated when last washed), food in the freezer, knitted squares made from leftover wool (now sewn as blankets to be donated). “We have reached the point where all there is left to do is find one bag big enough to cover the whole house and all the rest of us in it and write out a label that says ‘This is my house, these are my children, and this is my husband. I will never leave.’” His mother had survived WWII and was ready for whatever was coming next. And the things do come in Inverarity’s All the Broken Things (Anvil): flying saucers, Godzilla, Elvis and two air-headed radio hosts offering us a traffic report during the end of it all. (Will we have traffic reports at the end? Apparently, yes.) And then there’s the poem about a dog who can’t quite figure out who the good boy really is. All the Broken Things was shortlisted for the 222 Fred Kerner Book Award. Here is an excerpt from what the judges had to say: “All the Broken Things is an original and sublimely startling rumination on what it means to be human in all its heartbreaking and complicated beauty, in years gone by, now and beyond.”

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