Geoff Bouvier’s folio of poems trace five different origin stories of humanity: language, fire, stories, art, and civilization, a lyric retelling of history excerpted from his forthcoming collection Us from Nothing, a historical epic prose poem narrating 106 of history’s most important events. While the poems’ larger than life subjects would, in lesser hands, lend to abstraction, theory, or didacticism, Bouvier’s elegant verse creates microcosms out of macrocosms through word play and imaginative flight, characterization (“Primal Poet, Safe Mutant”), and a poet’s high fidelity to historical accuracy and emotional truth. Gesturing toward our contemporary unmet need for collective myths and systems of meaning, and the power of narrative to unite us (“[stories] tie us to another world, and tell us tales that show us who we are and why we’re here”), they also, like any prophetic omen, warn us of our Anthropocenic hubris, from our ability to control fire (a power which “defangs our food”) to our willed forgetting of “ancient ceremonies of the Moon”: “each new success is feasting upon us.” Bouvier’s five poems remind us that it’s not too late to return to our humanity, even if we’ve outpaced our origins, recalling the gods, seers, magic, and a “newborn Sapiens . . . whose voice sirens sleep-visions awake.” This visionary verse, teeming with evolutionary intrigue and uncanny futurisms, restores primacy to poetry and storytelling as modes of communication that could save us from ourselves, as whispers of “the first prayer”: “Other people dance, feel, kill, and dream. But this one’s brain is built for grammar, prepared to transmit.” These are poems of serious magnitude, scope, ambition, and discovery that return language from its atrophied commodification to its original powers of world creation and song.
Geoff Bouvier‘s third full-length volume of prose poetry, Us From Nothing, is a poetic history spanning from the Big Bang to the near future. The book will appear in fall 2023 from Wolsak and Wynn’s Buckrider imprint in Canada and in fall 2024 from Black Lawrence Press in the United States.