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The Firestorm

In The Firestorm, Zach Savich urges the reader along through the unknowable, manifested frequently in the whims of both the literal and human atmospheres, and resulting in the ultimate questioning of a belief in anything. A series of Savich’s poems, all beginning “I suppose I do believe in nothing,” highlight the paradoxical and infinitely regressive nature of belief. In “Silent Film,” Savich again forces us to examine our preconceptions of belief, writing, “The heart by definition the one thing we have not defined.”

In The Firestorm, Zach Savich urges the reader along through the unknowable, manifested frequently in the whims of both the literal and human atmospheres, and resulting in the ultimate questioning of a belief in anything. A series of Savich’s poems, all beginning “I suppose I do believe in nothing,” highlight the paradoxical and infinitely regressive nature of belief. In “Silent Film,” Savich again forces us to examine our preconceptions of belief, writing, “The heart by definition the one thing we have not defined.”

Many of the collection’s works are crafted as though Savich himself is witnessing an everyday landscape, taking it all in and inventorying and interpreting the scene, which becomes a jumping-off point for his wildly whimsical associations. Savich’s images are endlessly associative; one thing uncannily becomes another, though he enacts these transformations gracefully and without stammer. “Travelogue” is a long stream of such associations—reminiscent of a tiresome yet thrilling vacation, but a vicarious delight to read nonetheless. Hints of Beckett also pepper this wonderful collection, which is a sort of absurd theatrical experience itself, not limited to its resplendent, frequent use of curtain imagery.

Then again, some of the collection’s pieces are more inclined toward the narrative, though they never wrap up neatly and without surprise. His thoughts speak to deep, personal places the reader will certainly find familiar but inexplicable until now. The narrator questions the limits of himself and his ambitions, and directly touches on love sparingly but with lasting profundity. Savich writes, “To love: only what / you cannot replicate,” “To be half in love is / already in love,” and “Even what exists faintly wholly exists,” alluding to the fluid, elusive nature of human emotions.

Savich is a master of repetition with a difference—the same lines becomes all the more extraordinary through their continued dismantlement and reorganization. The repetition of lines throughout the book gives the collection’s construction the feel of one long, loosely structured poem itself, brilliantly holding the reader’s attention. The book carries its disjointedness throughout, which is only occasionally distracting. Savich always keeps the reader on his toes though with meticulous wordplay: “Against the endlessness of need, the endlessness of speech. / Against the endingness of speech, the speechlessness of need,” he writes, slipping in his own linguistic creations as he sees fit, and it is difficult to object.

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