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Joel Brouwer

Centuries ***

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Joel Brouwer writes prose poems that walk a wire of anxiety through contemporary life where "you realize you're naked under your coat, you don't remember a single line, and you'll have to go on like that, you'll have to go on and sing." And yet the pieces in Centuries are so various and unpredictable and startling, sometimes hyperbolic, often sordid. "The garage smells of turpentine and dirty magazines. The freezer hums with meat. You pour yourself an insecticide martini, scratch idly at your wart, and chit-chat with a cricket." Brouwer's universe, finally, as it springs and bristles with odd, nightmarish details and human voices, is able to circle back to a place of consolation where "A body has soft and hards parts, like a piano. Music comes from where they meet." In the end, Brouwer uses the disparate contingencies of existence like an instrument through which he can control chaos through art, through language.