Ending in Planes
Winner of the 2013 Noemi Press Book Award for Poetry
Ending in Planes occupies itself with language and location. The poems ask the reader to receive the word without expectation, as playful utterance and sometimes allegory shaped at the horizons of the page. The collection performs hybridity as a collision between, a rolling landscape of places – Seville, Boston, Pittsburgh, St. Martin – and a speaker who at times addresses the reader directly. As a whole, the book is a travelogue of conversations with self and other, of fragmented meditations on love and loss, and of disrupted narrative sequences which move us from familiar to unversed terrain.
Ruth-Ellen Kocher’s last book was called Goodbye Lyric. Here she says hello to lyric once again, but a lyric broad and wide enough to include a depersonalized I, a general you, even as lyric’s intimacy is felt in every line. Again and again these poems ask the hardest and the most crucial questions: Is violence inevitable in the encounter between you and I? Do we touch “only to know touch”? Does the earth love us? This is lyric made landscape of mind, bringing to my mind Leslie Scalapino’s expanded syntax or Alice Notely’s anarchic intensities. These poems think men, think women, think addiction, think despair and think desire, taking thought all the way to song and back again, so that as I read them I am compelled by their recurrences, their rhythms and their riffs, and I am assiduously tracking thought, con- sidering all the “Dark things which are loved.”
In book after amazing book Ruth Ellen Kocher remains a dynamo of lyric and formal invention. Ending In Planes further extends the ways her extraordinary poems experiment with the feeling of experience. Call her our Cecil Taylor, our Martha Graham of the word as she creates a language so otherworldly it seems to move beyond itself. This is remarkable book by a remarkable poet.