Of Water & Other Soft Constructions
selected by Samiya Bashir as the winner of the 2018
Anhinga Robert Dana Prize for Poetry
“Wake up,” commands Heidi Reszies, in this fine-spun collection, “we’re here.” Of Water & Other Soft Constructions introduces a poet who can turn her lines like an Olympic luger, getting more out of each breath than you might think she ought. Verbs tense toward now; nouns collectivize the dull promise of universality. An almost-narrative moment begins to form, then refuses us. Find futurity in the way Reszies forevers each line into “incipient bloom,” in how she engages her solemnity of white space through sound and syntax. Recollections become “museum” while “moon phases” are a thing one becomes. Compound images enchant our expectations. The poet shows her work, “a process not a fixed condition,” as analog thread stitching toward the reader’s own location. Is this her magic? In naming her constraints, Reszies activates a kind of liberation that lets us really reckon with what poems can do.
author of Field Theories
The Operating System
Heidi Reszies’ book, ILLUSORY BORDERS, wanders intriguingly along the edges of what making is: making a world, a garden, a book / making textiles, pictures, poems / making a home, making a way, making a life. In all these permutations of forging, which is to say apprehending, Reszies creates a constellated texture of convergence as the natural world moves through its life cycle, burgeoning and brimming and collapsing, and the interior world moves alongside, filling in the emotional gaps with guesses and glimpses of light. The poems themselves are scattered like seeds over the pages, spacious and spare, annotated with the ideas that exist—invisible but felt—in the in-between. Indeed, the majority of the text falls in what might be called the margins, the periphery, layering a delicate archive of moods throughout the pages, tenderly yielding a place for the smallest, most glimmery shred of hope to bloom like breath against glass that, when finally cleared, gives “a window inside another window inside.”
With ILLUSORY BORDERS, Heidi Reszies has created a beautifully crystalline and head-long book—a head space book—a deliberate constellation of open field stars, footnotes, typewritten scraps, sequences and gaps, “a little collapse.” It’s an extended meditation on the ways one might (and here, one does) create a collision between design thinking and the poetic imagination that itself results in a blending of inner and outer, border and interior, and most especially, writer and reader. Thus, two things here (or many) become one. Meanwhile, Reszies revels formally in the book’s bookness, its margins and arrangements, the letter forms and pages both empty and full. Here we see the selecting intelligence, and the natural world’s blueprint for it, as mirror images of each other, not different things at all. These are poems to attend and re-attend, tracking the notes between the wild bright dots.