Nervous Device

Wagner takes inspiration from Blake's "bounding line" to explore the poem as an intersection between speaker and audience. The poems in Nervous Device often act as bodies, shifting between seductive fluidity and fragmented discomfort. From "A Rose for George"

The structure of being is wanting
And like a fountain I suck up
My excesses
A little evaporates
One day it's dry and drying
Means I'm done
Oh whatever you'll always be there no?

I can say when I die "I was agent of clock"

Wagner, in this collection, often negotiates the failure of human connection, but this exploration is more charged and messy than conclusive. Jennifer Moxley notes that the poems are "unable to settle into a comfortable rhetorical space" which is perhaps what makes them vibrate with intensity like, as Eleni Sikelianos writes, "an electrified tornado inside a glass jar."

The book review originally appeared in American Poets.