Rebecca Lindenberg

Center for Literary Publishing, 2014

Rebecca Lindenberg’s second collection, like her first (Love, An Index) find its place in the aftermath of personal loss (that of her partner, Craig Arnold) while taking its form from the seemingly non-poetic (in this case, a notebook). The casual spontaneity suggested by the title manifests mostly as prose poems about the speaker’s interpersonal relationships and daily life in the sociopolitical and natural landscape in and around her home of Logan, Utah. Variety is provided by several monostiches (single-line aphorisms) and a handful of longer, lineated poems.

Lindenberg excels at rendering everyday life, and her poems create nuanced, often humorous, portraits of life in Logan. In the politically-minded “One Week in April,” she jokingly equates local religious sexism to the violent oppression of women under far-flung regimes: “A colleague’s wife gets a ticket for swearing on the bus. The law specifies: Women. She is asked to disembark. // My guy says, Loganistan.” In “September,” she utilizes a narrator’s freedom to paraphrase and revise to locate humor in understatement: her drunk neighbor “tips a little of the honey whiskey back into him and says something about bedding Mexican women while he was on leave in the Marines. Only he does not say ‘bedding’ or ‘Mexican’ or ‘women.’”

The book is not solely concerned with its social milieu, however. It is also rich with imagery of sky, snow, and rock as it explores the physical landscape of the West and its relationship to its inhabitants. Many of these “natural” poems are non-narrative, composed primarily of lists of imagistic fragments (“Cloud shaped like a roast chicken with wee chef’s hats on its feet. Cloud shaped like a cartoon drawing of a cloud.”) Lindenberg also relies upon monostiches to separate the longer pieces (“Why swat at the bee already whirring for a window?”), and they provide a clever and playful immediacy. The list poems, by comparison, grow repetitive, in part due to their stripped-down form, rhetoric, and syntax.

The Logan Notebooks can be contextualized as the continuation of a highly personal narrative of grief: Lindenberg’s attempt to move on in the aftermath of loss.  As a result, her two collections might be best read chronologically, rooting the reader in her loss and its attendant grief before trading on that emotional investment to explore the off-hand, casual, dailiness of the subsequent collection. Without this dramatic frame, the collection risks cuteness (its multiple zombie-apocalypse jokes are one example) and, for a collection that concerns itself with society and interpersonal relationships, seems light on drama.