I can’t recall a poet who uses line break more dramatically than Joshua Harmon
. The eloquent, ranging descriptions collapse and expand with each break, toying with the reader’s ability to comprehend the landscape’s entirety and forcing a constant reevaluation of each noun. A barbwire fence becomes more than just the trope of urban ruin. Instead, the fence is intimately a part of the landscape it serves to divide: “blossom//of razorwire,/and the barbed hooks/of autumn-dried briers/it encloses”. In Le Spleen de Poughkeespie
, a busy litany of men’s rooms, broken trees, and closed “meth/dispensaries” contrast with the occasional and profound moment of perceiving a phenomenon isolated from the rest of the world.
"The thwarts, the stutters, the choice to not conclude—this isn’t the way I speak when I go to the bank. As Oppen writes, 'We change the speech because we are not explaining, agitating, convincing: we do not know what we already know before we wrote the poems.' And this is part of why I write: I want to know about things, to discover."