Saturday, September 17, 2011

from HTMLGiant

http://htmlgiant.com/reviews/nate-pritts%E2%80%99s-big-bright-sun/

Nate Pritts’s Big Bright Sun celebrates witness, of one’s self and the self’s relationship to the world.

All of this is, frankly, // too much. When the bright red fire truck / zips (brightly) by I want to yell, “Here / is your emergency!” The red stop sign / sways gently in the bright wind not working // as usual. Today is still today. Time, / though brighter, passes normally. The difference // is that I can see exactly what I’m doing.

- From “Bright Day”


The speaker wants desperately to be the emergency, raison d’ĂȘtre for the fire truck howling through the streets. He wants to be causal event for the world. Is that personal? Duh. But aren’t we all simultaneously experiencing subjective emergencies, elevating them into global dilemmas?

Melodrama / is when you act like the stakes are higher / than they really are. God! Maybe / if we all pray for the same thing at the same / time then what we want to happen will happen.

Don’t you want to scream?

I do. The problem is there are no outside solutions: firetrucks to put out our problems. This is an argument for a society that seeks simple answers. But it is the us that are in control. We can’t blame the world. We can only take responsibility for how we interact with it. I’ve been told to stand in doorways / during but what about afterward. / Afterward is it ok to come in?

There is excessive celebration in these poems, which accumulates and lends itself to another level of meaning: desperation. To be consistently emphatic about everything (there are a lot of exclamation marks) is a psychological device employed by the self as a coping mechanism. It’s like the old dictum: If you force yourself to smile all the time, you will eventually become a happier person, or, if you want to be a happier person, just surround yourself with happier people. But Poetry Prozac the art is not—


Maybe we should see other people.

Just ten years from now, all this will be the past.
We’ll be so high above everything
in our flying cars & metallic jumpsuits.
We’ll be so hard to reach, no one
will be able to hurt us & there’ll be no disease
so we won’t be able to hurt ourselves.
Doctor, what I’ve been feeling just hangs on.
Give me any stupid reason to stay in bed
& I’ll do it. Don’t tempt me.
You wouldn’t like me when I’m tempted;
I get stuffed so full of desire I’d smash
my whole life just to get at you.

- from “Future Shock”

The world, both for its beauty and emotional spectrum, is overwhelming for the speaker, who is (and excuse me if I’m propagating a cultural myth about poesy) a person with a heightened sense of perception. When the speaker turns toward himself or other people, there is violence. The only way to approach the situation is by mediating past versions of the self and projecting it into a future world. But time is at the centre of presence, and the present is the only tense for being, which is at the core of this meditation. But isn’t a purely positivist version of reality just a lie? Rhetorical question—

Happy Day

This morning as I stepped outside, right
as my tender toe touched the tender ground,

my whimsical but determined theme song kicked up
& since then everything has gone decidedly my way—

no pianos dropped from second floor windows
to knock me flat & give me cartoon-style ivory teeth,

no potted plants dropped one-two-three, bright
white lily then sunny sunflower & finally

the pinkly clustered chrysanthemum, to fall & shatter
upon mine big soft head, birds & stars sprouting from the soil

like ideas scatted & thought better of; no threats,
no menacing, no inconveniences major or minor

dost me befall & so surely this must be the best
of all possible worlds. Honestly, I woke up stupid & sore

afraid thinking of my nil prospects for the future as I stared blank
into the grayscale sun. This is the unhappy world I’ve made,

I thought: no pictures on the wall, nothing but leftovers
in the fridge. I had to think of all the me’s

I’ve shaken hands with & bid farewell to over the years
& I had to wonder what they’re waking up to,

what’s on their living room walls. But
since then, everything has been perfectly fine!

Life is grand! Sensational! Spectacular! Nothing is going
horribly, disastrously, irreparably wrong.


The velocity of Pritt’s verse is unusually ecstatic— ecstatic but not frantic. In addition to his adept ability to surprise with double meanings that often occur through enjambment, his control is apparent in the stanza breaks and the attention paid to the individual line as a single, self-embodied unit. Furthermore, the use of antiquated diction, code switching, the excessiveness of language and repetition, build an artificial optimism that continually breaks down throughout the book. When the language breaks, when the poems become self-reflexive and aware, is where the project and speaker are most honest. The coping mechanism is false. The world is not beautiful all the time. It’s sarcastic. It’s a lie. But by the time we realize it’s a lie, Doctor Pritts got us. It’s not the speaker’s lie, it’s our lie. We totally bought the cake. We ate the whole fucking thing. I feel terrible. I’m so happy, I’m sad.

This book asks all kinds of questions, not about itself or the poet or literature, but what the hell we are doing with our selves. Big Bright Sun is stuffed with all kinds of pomo metatextual, ars poetica, etc… but what is it in service of? That’s the affect. The problem for me is that you can see through what’s happening early on in the book. That’s not necessarily a global problem for the text, as it’s a fulfilling read, but perhaps how I am today as a reader. The entirety of the book is not as necessary as its argument (in its artifice). “Happy Day” appears a third of the way into the book. It’s not that the first third was necessarily empty, but it feels fragmented, like a buildup that disappoints… particularly in comparison with the poem, “Happy Day”… which as a single, one page poem, is a complete work. I may be asking a lot out of books these days, perhaps because I have so many new ones I want to read, but the first 33 pages seem unnecessary. Don’t get me wrong, they are filled with moments, pleasures, but aren’t pages I’d come back to read again.

A fire burns in my heart // which is just to the left of where I’m standing, / where I’m wondering, hoping something // I’ve said makes the kind of sense that saves.

There is a series of expectations the speaker hopes to appeal to, but we are constantly discrediting him as he continues questioning his own authority. He is telling us about how troubled he is, an equal trouble to our trouble of trying to sort out his troublemaking. Double trouble.

I realize / what I’m saying makes no sense but I’m saying it. // I’m as troubled by my tone as you are. I’m not sure if I take myself seriously. One thing is certain: I am // not one of those stop signs you speed through! / I am a dangerous intersection; you should use caution when approaching me!

I’m reminded of Chelsey Minnis, who I admire a great deal— or at least the bravado Pritt’s employs when he explores the pathetic fallacy of self determinacy that dislodges all sincerity. The point is not to take the speaker at his word. That puts semantic weight on the poet, not the poem. Is that a problem? Because the speaker can credibly witness the world as an event, can delve into the complicated depths of human emotion, and can construct arguments about the psychological state of American individualism, we are left to wonder why he explicitly and transparently discredits his poet-self as fabrication. We already know the poet (speaker) is not the person. But when we are repeatedly pushed to recall this knowledge, we are pushed out of the poem.

To make the person I write about more interesting / & also complex, I pretend he is a me / who is crazy-sad about a lot of things really. I recommend this to anyone who desires success.

The last line is straight out of the Chelsey Minnis playbook, “If you want to be a successful poet”. Half this book is about questioning the efficiency of the speaker in terms of “success”, both through the work as a meta-device and via the content. The better half explores the fragmented struggle of emotionally coping with the fragmented psychological state of contemporary life. Fortunately, the better half is so good, it’s worth the book (your time). In relation to this book, and maybe a little more, I agree with Werner Herzog, who I quote, “I think psychology and self-reflection is one of the major catastrophes of the twentieth century”. I am much more impressed when the disassociated self no longer takes precedent over the world.

There’s joy all over the streets of today
because my blue eyes can see it
in big smile faces stuck silly on people
going somewhere in cars, traipsing
to anywhere they weren’t at before
which is always always
a much better place

We can hear it in the voices of angels
when they sing it over guitar, over drums, over
over & over: Heaven is whenever,
a time to hold out, not a cloudy destination,
& it’s only their crooning that makes us
believe it.

- from “Big Bright Sun”

and I believe it.



***

Jake Levine is poetry editor at Spork Press, a director at Summer Literary Seminars, was a Fulbright Scholar, or is a Fulbright Scholar, received his MFA from Arizona in poetry, is the author of a few chapbooks, one of which you can buy from Spork Press. He is currently in and from Tucson, but is about to move to Montreal. He got third place in the Phoenix Zuni Elementary Geography Bee when he was in fifth grade. He used to be Co-Chief of Sonora Review. He made bagels in Lithuania for the first time since the Holocaust and is a big fan of Arizona despite its politics.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

from NewPages

http://www.newpages.com/bookreviews/2011-08-02/#Big-Bright-Sun-by-Nate-Pritts

Big Bright Sun

Poetry by Nate Pritts


Review by Dan Magers

When reading the poetry of Nate Pritts, one gets the sense that his drive to write poetry originated from the ecstatic strain of the Beat Generation, namely through the poetry of Philip Whalen and the Ginsberg of “Supermarket in California,” as opposed to the more apocalyptic strain personified by Burroughs and Ginsberg’s “Howl.” This is the strain that has it that all of nature and even some man-made objects are imbued with a holy light and the possibility of transcendence. This is a source of yearning and salvation for Pritts, as he writes in the first poem of his fourth book, Big Bright Sun, “There are literally / hundreds of roses I could pick today // or leave for tomorrow & the evening / of a different year, the purple evening.” In the book, this is especially true of the sun:

What could be wrong? There is right now a big yellow orb
hanging overhead &, no, it won’t fall &, yes,
it is beautiful; everything around you is beautiful. You

is beautiful. You is stunning, shocking the whole world
blind.

The sun offers a visible, ever-present demonstration of beauty in the world, and for Pritts, offers clarity, even the possibility of transcendence. The last three lines give us the speaker’s other sense of worldly relief, the “you” of these poems, the beloved who is there (and sometimes not), alternately giving rise to calm and burning desire. The poems work to subsume the mundane instances of life beneath the sun’s radiance. This is a rallying point for Pritts, “I never want to live in a society that forgets // the sun is in the air,” he writes early on.

This is easier said than done, as life has a way of getting in the way of enlightenment. “Suddenly, / you’re waving to everyone you see, / hopping mad when they don’t say hello back.”

The poems continue from their effusive beginnings through tours of quotidian frustration, which also characterize the poems:

All around me the fabric frays, threadbare
& laundered one time too many.
But I read the label so carefully …

and

My neighbor is hammering
his porch back together which is the inverse
of that endless summer I spent pissing everybody off
& could feel the nails slowly pulling out.

Through these movements between effusion and frustration we start to see how Big Bright Sun operates. The moments describing the sun, the flowers, the beauty of the world—often wedged in the middle of complaint—suggests the idea of mindfulness, or meditation to combat anger and frustration:

I do not feel colorful or round or various.
But it is safe to assume some kind of correspondence
between outer states & inner,
isn’t it?

The poetry will abruptly shift attention from complaint to the beauty of the outside world for moments that yield a sense of meaning, beauty, purpose, and the possibility of transcendence.

Put differently, these are forced moments. Adjectives are tacked on (“the sky is the same brilliant blue / as the sky on any sunny-outside day, a brilliant brilliance”), as if the actual thing cannot be adequately conveyed without them, or that the author does not trust the reader (or himself) to realize their specialness. The idea of “forced moments” is fraught with negative connotations—that work is not organic, or filled with artificial appendages. But Pritts’s use of them is intentional, as someone who practices mindfulness is using it intentionally.

As in real life, the use of mindfulness or meditation often comes at a point of greatest anger or frustration, and often the poems unfold similarly. Unlike certain kinds of anger or rage that have a clarifying or cathartic effect, the anger and frustration in Big Bright Sun is often helpless, and reflects more closely and honestly the life of adulthood. The result can sometimes be jittery and sometimes disconcerting.

Pritts realizes this, and his poems are often filled with humor in these situations, and he adds into some of his poems a sense of the ridiculous and excessively petulant:

...I will go away,

live in a cave & use my own breath as money.
When someone discovers me in my island cave
they will say something like “Loneliness

is expensive,” & I will breathe deep to pay myself back.

A sense of failure looms in these poems, but this is not a book of failure—for what life ever lives up to one’s expectation for it? Instead, Big Bright Sun is very engaged in the trenches of life.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

from PANK

http://www.pankmagazine.com/pankblog/reviews/big-bright-sun-by-nate-pritts-a-review-by-brian-fanelli/


Big Bright Sun By Nate Pritts (A Review By Brian Fanelli)


Blaze Vox [books]

100 pages, $16

Nate Pritts begins his fourth collection of poems, Big Bright Sun, with a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “But for me the earth is new today, and the sun is raining light.” For Emerson and other transcendentalist writers, nature was a source of relief and comfort, but in Big Bright Sun, the fragmented, juxtaposed images and landscapes, especially the sun as its brightest, are often oppressive and a reminder of fleeting moments and failed relationships.

Pritts’ variety of forms in his fourth collection is impressive. The poems range from fragmented lyrics, to couplets, to journalesque lines, especially in the poetic sequence “Monday, Monday.” Though the book contains several different forms, the poems do have a fairly consistent speaker, a man who frequently ponders lost love and fleeting moments throughout the collection. His turmoil is highlighted best through the sometimes jarring landscapes and images Pritts wove throughout the collection.

One of the most striking strengths of Big Bright Sun is Pritts’ ability to depict a sense of longing for past experiences, and his meditations on failed relationships. However, there are times in the book where Pritts captures the excitement of new love, including in the poem “EMERGENCY POSTCARD TO YOU (1).” The speaker’s lover serves as relief from a ho-hum office job, especially as he thinks about seeing her in the sunlight “of anytime.” But by the poem’s sequel a few dozen pages later entitled “EMERGENCY POSTCARD TO YOU (2),” the speaker has grown impatient, due to the “luxury” of seeing his lover “in the sunlight of anytime/at every single any-given moment of the day.” And by the end of the poem, the speaker is “furious at the leaves skittering around” and waiting for the phone to ring, for a voice to say hello.

There are other poems that also successfully capture the theme of regret and soured relationships, including the longer narrative poem “An Instant in Time.” Similar to other poems in the collection, “An Instant in Time” features a speaker who is stuck on the past, who empties a “glove box of old letters,” who stares at a photograph of an old chair and misses his lover. In the same poem, Pritts uses nature imagery, as he does in other poems, to highlight a relationship gone wrong. July’s heat has “turned stale,” and November’s haze is “stifling.” Tiger lilies are depicted as “burning, lolling orange tongues/streaked yellow, curling & mute.”

There are times when the tone and voice of the collection is a little less self-loathing and unstable and the poet is not afraid to poke fun at himself. In “a three-dimensional person,” the speaker jokes:

To make the person I write about more interesting

& also more complex, I pretend he is a me

who is crazy-sad about a lot of things really.

At times, after reading a slew of poems with unsettling, disjointed images and landscapes reflective of the speaker’s emotional turmoil, I wanted to read more poems like “ a three-dimensional person,” poems with a change in voice and tone that provide some levity to the book.

What Pritts reminds the reader, however, is that there is beauty in ugliness, even in misery, and in everyday, often ignored scenery. He highlights this point best in the poem “Beautiful Nonetheless.” Here, the emphasis is on landscapes not always thought of as beautiful, including “yellow-headed dandelions poking up where they don’t belong” that are labeled “pretty.” Even thorny flowers that make the speaker sneeze, that could well be weeds are also dubbed “beautiful nonetheless.”

Pritts concludes the book with “Big Bright Sun,” a poem that features more fragmented lines and juxtaposed images. But, like Emerson, the speaker hopes to find some salvation in the sunshine, as he confesses, “Still hoping for forgiveness/in the shine of the sun/I’m trying to do right/by the people I love.”

Big Bright Sun successfully showcases Pritts’ ability to write in a variety of forms, while still maintaining a fairly consistent voice and speaker throughout a collection. His images sometimes leave a reader feeling uncomfortable or unsettled, but they serve well in capturing his speaker’s shifting and often unstable state of mind.


Brian Fanelli is the author of the chapbook Front Man. His poetry has also been published by a number of journals and websites, including Young American Poets, Chiron Review, Word Riot, Boston Literary Magazine, Breadcrumb Scabs, Indigo Rising Magazine, and Blood Lotus. His work is also forthcoming in the Pennsylvania Literary Journal. Visit him at www.brianfanelli.com.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

from The Joe Milford Poetry Show

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/joe-milford-show/2011/05/28/joe-milford-hosts-nate-pritts


90 minute interview & reading segment on The Joe Milford Poetry Show, 5/28/2011, focusing on Big Bright Sun & new work from Sweet Nothing & beyond.

from Coldfront

http://coldfrontmag.com/reviews/wolf-face-and-big-bright-sun

by Patrick Dunagan

by Matt Hart / by Nate Pritts
H_ngm_n Bks 2010 / BlazeVOX Books 2010


“two hummingbirds singing”

Conjecture, simple statement and sense perception yield sparkling poetics in the latest collections by poets / editors / publishers / pals Matt Hart and Nate Pritts. Each author is extremely active in poetry world business affairs: Hart edits and publishes the journal Forklift, Ohio and press Forklift Ink, and Pritts is behind H_ngm_n and H_ngm_n BKS. The energy they bring to poetry is tremendous and truly generative in the best sense – when you come across a project that either or both has a hand in, you’re fired up with mad desire to respond. Their latest books are no exception.

In their own ways – Hart with mania, Pritts with hope – the poets can be glowy: “Today is the brightest day today / could possibly be!” ( Pritts, “Bright Day”). But they are always close to the matter-of-fact detail, presenting a situation at hand with intimate and mildly absurd analysis: “and your absence is company and a company” (Hart, “You Are Mist”). What they share is a dedication to approaching poetry as an occasion of serious fun. Even when edging into darkness, Hart’s response to the world is joyous:

It’s true that two hummingbirds singing
in exactly the same pitch
can shatter the blackest of mountains.
But it’s also true that the missiles
in those mountains can shatter
a hummingbird to pieces of hummingbird.
The end. But this curled mess of black
yarn, this series of concrete barrier
entanglements, means that we have to be ready
for no matter what, for whatever…

(“Electron Face”)

Do hummingbirds even sing? It does not seem to matter; the poet intuits a sound, or confluence of sound, and anyway “the missiles / in those mountains” most certainly “can shatter” hummingbirds along with all the rest of us anyway. The thought of doom immediately enters and distracts. Doom is reliable; one can have faith in doom. And as he says at the close of the same poem,

The reason it’s good to have faith
is the reason for everything good.

The abiding principle here is to get into the swing of language and immediate association, and then to allow the poem to be carried away. The darker it gets, the more that “play” is an affair meant to be harnessed. In the following example from Pritts, each line connects thought to emotion to thought as the reader is drawn in to an unsettled monologue:

Sometimes I catch myself not really listening

when other people talk & I get concerned
that I’m not expressing the proper emotion

so I just keep thinking that I want them
to shut up quick & stop asking me to care.

Earlier today I saw one bird & I thought
he looked like a sad bird so I said to myself,

“Hey, Pritts, you are one sad bird,” but now
looking back, I can see how someone else

would have thought that bird looked pretty happy,
ecstatic even, & with all those feathers

why not?

(“Sad Tree”)

These aren’t glum poems; they are landscapes of the tragic comedy of everyday living. Where Pritts seeks relief in philosophical inquiry, Hart immerses himself in the present. He displays a dazzling brilliance for the occasional and transitional. He tells us he’s

…snoozing-in 3 times, getting up finally at 6;

kissing good morning to Melanie and the cold air,
the coffee, computer, the baby and dog; make coffee…

By doing so, he’s introducing the daily routine upon which the poems depend, times of the day when

the cold air feels terrific, my ears filled with traffic.
I feel like I’m still dreaming, each step automatic, my body

self-propelled. And on the streets with no lights
without my glasses, I can’t see a thing. So Daisy and I

simply rocket, bolt and breathe, benevolent burn,
and only the trees with their low-hanging branches,

which scrape against my face every thirty or forty
seconds, break me out of my trance and remind me

of me, and also where we are – Cincinatti, November!

(“Blackbox Cockpit Voice Recorder”)

Hart stays rooted in daily habits and in a very specific place, Cincinatti. He has no knowledge of what’s presently to arrive, but commits himself to nailing down hard truths against the surrounding darkness. Both Pritts and Hart understand and perhaps thrive on the treacherous detours a poet is likely encounter with this kind of writing: turning a corner of a thought on a line and finding that the corner corners them. Pritts

…can look up & see that same night sky,

that it will always be empty black or riddled
with starlight but, whatever it is, it will be,
always, & I’m convinced that being convinced

is a good way to handle all this doubt,
just like I am convinced I could do almost anything
& still be me in the morning.

(“That Me”)

But the only thing that keeps him from falling up into the “empty black” is the conviction that he is at least as constant as the sky. The work they excel at requires they remain outside the society that benefits from their work, but remain deeply engaged in the daily functions afloat on its surface. Discomfort becomes endemic, an inescapable side effect of getting the job done. What keeps the work going is the satisfaction that comes now and then from catching a glimpse beyond the usual charade. Here is Pritts:

I can’t handle complex systems. Imagine if this were all one big
celestial accident. The senseless piles up
& with time the mass becomes hot enough to shine. So simple,
the shine, & so beautiful. Its beauty may put you in shock.

(“Daisy”)

This is a calling Hart shares:

Weird wonder these days how it only gets darker
and figuratively speaking full of teeth in the glow.

(“Wolf Face”)

Each poet has the presence of a mythic punk Ted Hughes. They address the indecipherable density of existence, even sharing images – the senseless mass, the teeth in the glow – as the frightening repeatedly returns to the beautiful. They find levity in darkness, trusting in the knowledge that the richest blood in the heart flows darkest. The poems arrive enmeshed in the lives of the poets, because the poets place their faith in experience, perception and people. There is no escapism to be found here. There’s much to be lamented, but importantly, there’s plenty to enjoy.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

from storySouth

http://www.storysouth.com/2011/03/nate-pritts-big-bright-sun.html

by Tony Aarts

Reading poems by Nate Pritts is a verified experience in what it means to see the poet in terms of a voice, image(ry), life, and the many landscapes, teetering or still, that are covered. Not to break in tangent, but it seems no mistake that Pritts has a fixation on the sun in this particular collection. The voice in these poems is often ecstatic, whether it be in duress or appreciation, and this continues to sound back to some element of a burning things down to their bare essentials.

Even the epigraph recalls the primitive self:

“But for me the earth is new to-day, and the sun is raining light.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson. Journal: November 28th, 1837.

This fixation with light, heat, propulsion all work together in Big Bright Sun to give the reader poems that revel in “some so recently orange sky” while admitting that these same moments are a passing. This is nothing new as a theme in poetry, but Pritts approaches it with regard and disregard at the same time. The pull between the two is a delicate crux.

Moving away from the central pulse of the collection, Pritts does the work of carving a place for himself through varying forms, tones, and even the diction itself. The poems adopt antiquated spellings and syntax that mirror that juxtapose the world he finds himself in.

[...] to fall & shatter
upon mine big soft head, birds & stars sprouting from the soil
like ideas, scattered & thought better of; no threats,
no menacings, no inconveniences major or minor
dost me befall & so surely this must be the best
of all possible worlds.
(from “Happy Day”)

He switches throughout the collection, even to moments that call up O'Hara and Berrigan:

So you start out saying one thing
& end up saying something else & anyway
it's February; we should pretend it's cold.
(from “Daisy”)

It might be that some would say Pritts is inhabiting the bodies of those before him, but it's not the case. He reels as a composite that has crash-landed and cannot remark enough to save himself. Even the various forms change masks to throw new faces into the circle. “All My Poems...” run throughout the collection as Pritts gives his poems personalities, habits, faults, and a place to sit. These poems are themselves being that are lost and overcome, or they're simply waiting. Many poets and instructors alike have likened a poem to an instant, the bell rings, and then there is the sound after. What struck me was how Pritts turns this on end as the poem waits for a ring itself. There is an instant, and the instant is also waiting for an instant. Humor runs throughout the series, but they often turn on themselves as they become unruly, forgotten, misunderstood, or misanthropic. Being a proponent for the saying, “There is nothing more serious than a joke.” it's a welcome sight to see that Big Bright Sun sees how quickly mirth is followed by consequence.

As the collection moves forward, Pritts runs through series, couplets, the personal, the fragmented lyric, journal-like estuary, and back to the ecstatic. It might be that this constant volley strains itself at times. Some of the sectioned poems break so from the energy and ember of those surrounding them that it can be jarring for the reader. As well, the confessional monologues sometimes move away from a foreground or background, losing their footing in image or anchor for the reader to fix the voice to. One example is “Phase Study” in which the couplets rifle through a sort of analysis of a self that is akin to a black hole or a natural event. While the idea behind the language is loaded and pulling, the actual terrain of the poem is left somewhat in space. Being an individual that loves both feet on and completely off the ground, reading and re-reading these poems creates a different reaction each time.

Still, what was the greatest impact for myself in reading Big Bright Sun was the confession that one can love the world and know that it is a terribly frightening place, too. There are cracks and shortfalls, and we're always dotted somewhere in between, hoping we can at least recognize ourselves. Pritts has an unreal ability to tighten this experience into lines worth writing in the grass, on bus windows, across the back of someone's head, and anywhere else the authorities won't notice. (On second thought, they can live with it. They should.) Lines like, “The waves form / & some fights are small. It can be assumed / that people desire & then suddenly disappear.” (from [this is true mainly because I was inspired by the ordinary people]) or, “I've let myself / walk away from my myself & I'm wandering / lost & empty everywhere I am & I / have entered a cloud & am sore afraid.” (from “Three Birds”) and, “I was nervous because / I was a symbol for something.” (from [thank you for your time]).

The poem “So Many Happiness” is one that admits that a life is tied to its joy and pain at the same point. What starts as a lament of the poet opens on its surroundings.

many chairs in a room
but not how many happinesses
& that is the heartbreak of humanity
just like flight is the hearbreak of birds
which people think of as their stunning achievement.
Birds wonder how talk can make us sad.
Grass wonders if it is really the journeywork
of the starts & clouds wonder why
jazz music hurts it so. Of the last three things
you said to me, the jazz music you said hurt me
the most. Not that it was sad
or mean, but that it made sense & that it was
one note played & then another note played
& they weren't the same note but it still sounded good.

Nate Pritts has written a collection that can't have enough because, as common a thought as it is, there is something passing by, something still missing. One could do much worse than hold fast, and if nothing else, follow it without apology. These poems do just that.