Radioland

radioland thumbnailBarrow Street Press, 2015

74 pages, $16.95, ISBN 978-0989329682

 

Lesley Wheeler’s Radioland is a spellbinding examination of communication breakdown in all its guises. With seismic heft, Wheeler mines the metaphoric capabilities of tectonic shifts and fault lines, slurred pop lyrics, and the lexicon of new technologies. Throughout, a father’s inscrutability translates into the nonsensical garble and static of old radios. Wheeler’s keen focus on linguistic obfuscations plays in the key of Williams, specifically: It is hard to get the news from poetry. With a flair for received forms and an exacting ear, Wheeler has her finger on the pulse of all that stands in the way of straightforward transmissions, not only of the other but of the self. Wheeler’s facility for naming what doesn’t get said is nothing less than stunning. —Martha Silano, author of Reckless Lovely

Lesley Wheeler’s new volume of poems, Radioland, spellbinds with the gorgeous sounds of its poetry: “Drag belly over gravel on a cave-lip / into the TV and sleep in it,” one poem opens. Note the insouciant forging of ancient and quotidian scenes, the modulation of vowels punctuated byv’s: I’m hooked! Wheeler is, among other glories, a consummate formalist, but she is also profound in her exploration of the governing trope of this collection: the deeply human struggles in which families engage to be receptors and transmitters of love (the crisis brought to a head by the unforgiven father’s death). In Radioland’s disturbed emissions and reception, we cannot always tell what’s “[s]ignal and noise,” but at the borderland to the absolute, Wheeler is surefooted in her exploration of love’s echoing “parley” in the world.                     —Cynthia Hogue, author of Revenance

Radioland is a dynamic book, at once both formally sharp and emotionally resonant.  There is tenderness in these pages as well as that resolute gritting of teeth that comes with all the difficult craziness of living against dying.  We go to poetry hoping to find the clarity denied to us by the quiet frenzy of each day. Lesley Wheeler’s poems offer this through a voice as musical as it is incisive.                                        —Tim Seibles, author of Fast Animal

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