Kevin Goodan, in his third collection, Anaphora, forthcoming from Alice James Books, conf.ronts violence and suicide in an impoverished rural community through a fiery litany of elegiac poems. Often by stream of consciousness, these poems confront violence to others and to the self. The speaker has discovered death’s underlying language and this is a community where “we roar / with violence granted we fuck and hang.” Goodan reclaims the dead, brings them back to “our little moments of shine.” His poems burn their ways through recurring phrases and images—rope, a water tower, embers, dogs, chromaticism, Houdini—in a way that translates the world of the living into the world of the dead. We’re in dangerous waters here, and Goodan is keenly aware that many do not make it back: “I think about god how / untranslatable his actions are.” Anaphora is an elegy in honor of those lost in translation, those who never make it back. The speaker’s rage builds climatically and then crack in moments of earnest and unbridled grief: “someone cut my cousin down please / goodbye goodbye cut him the fuck down.” These poems are for “Jimmy found blue in the noose / spactistic like Houdini / picking the locks of god.”

Alice James Books.

—Review by David Brunson