Marvelous Things Overheard
Amid the inauthentic, the pastiche, the absurd and the hilarious, it would be natural to feel somewhat ironic and lukewarm toward the world. But far from it: the affection between these speakers and their cohort tells another story about the durable ideal of friendship, which is always romantic. Love poems to one Hannah, reminiscent of Frank O’Hara’s poems to Grace Hartigan, are the apex of Ekstrand’s collection: read “The Legend of the Musk Deer” through to its surprising and beautiful conclusion and tell me it doesn’t belong with “In Memory of My Feelings” as a monument to the unruly impulses caught between passion, compassion, and sublime disinterest.
In the new and nearer Laodicea, Eric Ekstrand sets his margins moving and finds a center everywhere his loving eye alights. Naturally, given the exigencies of our own bad empire, his concerns are tender and keen for the flesh, for shrines in the flesh that undisguise the blasted shrines of these United States. Say the margin is a reindeer farm in North Carolina; say the center is "white tails / and little fur spirits rising from the anus." You get the picture. You also get, by way of devotion, an eros fighting the good fight, a freedom as wild as prophecy any time, here and hereafter.
Twenty Poems That could save america
As Dramatically as any young writer I know, Eric Ekstrand has invented a deeply original poetic language, an idiomatic grammar, which opens up strange, kaleidoscopic views of the familiar world. His poems are pastoral landscapes in which social realities, flowering dogwoods, and linguistic coinages are intertwined with a Gnostic Chattiness, landscapes in which "The golden dog pauses / valueless among the muscle of the word rhododendron, " and wallpaper lotuses "sit like ladies / sit for yoga at the Y / --unsupressed." Ekstrand's poems are intricate, wondrous, funny, contemplative and preternaturally wise. They excite and awaken me.