Severance Songs

The loose sonnets in Joshua Corey's third collection, written in mes of desire and suffering with raw intensity. Equally dexterous with natural landscape as he is with the interior, Corey's poems sing from the body while drawing from myriad historical and classical references. Paul Hoover notes that it is exactly this "suppleness of the poet's voice, in concert with his loves, fears, and the voices he has 'stood upon,' that makes Severance Songs extraordinary."

The work is often at its most compelling when taking on its own medium—in one sonnet, Corey writes: "The poem is the war on a very plain level." Later in the same poem, he writes: "...we deplore the poem / and its rage that is not bravery or counter- / intelligence." In the sonnet that ends the collection, he writes


    doesn't end once love itself comes home
    though reaching builds on reaching the     fallible poem.

This book review originally appeared in American Poets, fall 2011, issue 41.