Smudgy and Lossy, by John Myers
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Smudgy and Lossy, the first collection of poetry by Idaho-based poet John Myers, offers us a map to a borderless and psychedelically rural landscape—poems begin and end without notice, and the titular characters, Smudgy and Lossy, fade in and out of the rustic settings, situations, and daily chores that Myers assigns to them, "look[ing] for delicate flowers that bloom through hard sand or clay." With an expansive and textured queerness covering each page, the flat horizons of these poems sit too far away to navigate their identity with any certainty. Building continuously toward the collection's final swirling 13 pages, a 127-line list poem leaves us with one of the most exciting and bewildering poetic finales in recent memory.
Both in the characters and the way the poems emote, I become "wrapped in" John Myers's exquisite collection of poems Smudgy and Lossy; their "roaring and wandering" lyrics that might "wear out a blue rectangle." I am enamored with the style: poems that hold the lyric and its reproof, granting me more of their intensity. The poems scorn and celebrate—with equal gusto—feelings and attitudes that shift, deepen, and advise. The poems hold the imagination in front of the image, glossing-over or rusting the poem's sentiment. Take for example the poem Lossy, which opens with "laugh gorgeous and laugh shy." Does it instruct or describe? Both. In the end these poems reveal only what they intend: to loom "beyond Eros and ferns."—Prageeta Sharma