We tend to have expectations for who people should be, what things we should do, how language should act... all of these ideas for what the world and our lives should be like. Everything has its place. Claire Becker, in her collection of poetry, Where We Think It Should Go, asks us to take a step back from those traditional (mis)conceptions. She uses language to play with boundaries, and moves us to see that we can perhaps better make sense of things when they’re less clear:
I only know
in movie lighting,
not summer morning.
The language and cadence in her poems is playful, though she is considering (or reconsidering) what our place in the world is; bodies fold into themselves, minutes become lifetimes, words turn into “brown earth,” into sky, into rain, into gestures. The way that she arranges the words in her work mimics this coming together of things, people, and places; the poem is an extension of our bodies—“the possible”:
the physical fact of being
one person + the physical fact of being more.
Next to napkin and packet of soy sauce on the table.
Becker’s work implores the reader to think about how the way that we’re used to connecting with other people and places has no meaning, or at least not the right/important meaning. She speaks of little moments, things that would frustrate a lot of people, and finds the beauty in them:
A slowdown can last
forty-five minutes. You’re watching
the accident, I’m watching the slowdown.
The way that she writes gets the reader to explore her poems in the same way that she explores the world—there aren’t many obvious connections. This looseness can sometimes be tricky to navigate, as the poem often takes you to unexpected places. Though as you move through the book, wonderfully strange relationships begin to develop, and themes—water, the recording of events, love—draw these seemingly random happenings together. Where We Think It Should Go is a book that you’ll want to keep coming back to.