3 poetry collections that are full of surprises

The struggle to access paradise. The relationship between language and illusion. The power of childhood memories. These three poetry collections cover significant territory, even as they take readers in unexpected directions.

1. 'Eruv,' by Eryn Green

"Eruv" is an innovative, surprising debut that won the 2013 Yale Series of Younger Poets prize. These wispy, sometimes disjointed poems arise from the idea that light, and, to some degree, paradise, can be accessed by each human being. The collection takes its title from the area that Orthodox Jews sometimes circumscribe for their Sabbath activities. Green defines an eruv as “a ritual enclosure that opens private into public spaces.”

In some poems, the room – or the passageway from it – is love, as in these lines from “Sounds (Second Walk)”: “I watch the clumsy/ grace of bicyclists in January/ unblushing the sky, shamed of nothing/ suddenly my life/ makes sense: I get along/ until the cloud just collapses.” 

Love is a portal and “the future/ is love,” yet just like paradise, it can be difficult to find, or to keep. Desire and the frustration of that desire fuel these poems, which still remain stubbornly hopeful. The writing here demands one’s full concentration, but gives a lot in return.

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