“As usual, it starts with love. I had my heart set on the door-to-door encyclopedia salesboy.” So begins Nance Van Winckel’s latest collection of poetically altered encyclopedia entries that feature a mixture of quirky social satire and absurdist wit.
Entries like “The Importance of Mood to Man” use an encyclopedic tone to insist: “Your body is two-thirds water. Mood is one-third body” and “Life and health depend on the mood taken into the body each day.” An anatomic diagram of the nose is accompanied by the promise, “A nose can smell rain coming.” Alongside illustrations of the vestibule, the meatus, and the conchus can be found lines of text like, “As the one you love steps onto / your stoop / a widening wind / underscores the sky’s pummel.” Reminiscent of recent visual-poetic hybrids by such writers as Matthea Harvey and Bianca Stone, Van Winckel’s ground-breaking innovations must be seen to be believed.
NANCE VAN WINCKEL, a recipient of two NEA Poetry Fellowships, the Paterson Fiction Prize, the American Short Fiction Award, and many other honors, is the author of six collections of poems and five books of fiction. A professor in Eastern Washington University’s Inland Northwest Center for Writers, Van Winckel lives in Spokane, Washington.
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