reviewed by Jennifer Michael Hecht

As its more common negative form “anorexia” hints, “orexia” means appetite and desire. Spaar’s new book addresses dread, as well as weariness and age, but in the end sides with love of life and delight. The verbiage in Orexia vibrates like a bass fiddle and surprises the reader, as in the poem “Temple Tomb”: “Then the changes: // placental, myrrhed. Wet hem / when you appeared. // What did your body ever have / to do with me? In my astonished mouth, // enskulled jawbone guessed, / though as yet I didn’t know you.” Spaar’s trickery and mastery of language is on full display, making the word placenta an adjective instead of a noun and using the word myrrh as a verb. The poems are metaphysical and mundane yet also erotic in their relation to the universe. That’s how big the world is here. The book’s final poem, “How I Might Sound if I Left Myself Alone,” is wise and neither easy nor obscure, beginning with “Turning to watch you leave,” and staying lonesome, stopping to call a garden toad a “speaking stone,” while ending in two seductive couplets: “Annul the self? I float it, / a day lily in my wine. Oblivion? // I love our lives, / keeping me from it.”

This review originally appeared in American Poets, Spring-Summer 2017.