by John Poch.
(WordFarm, 2019. 89 pp. $18.00)
In an era of malfeasance and corruption, it’s no surprise that poets revel in apocalyptic apprehensions or seek solace in satirical verse. Poems in these modes are more than necessary balm; they join an esteemed and lasting literary tradition of literary witness. But poems that turn toward landscape and local habitation hold equal heft, as John Poch’s fifth collection, Texases, powerfully attests. A poet of spiritual questing and canny craftsmanship, Poch is consistently recognized for his virtuosity. Two of his books were singled out for outstanding formal achievement: Two Men Fighting with a Knife (2008) won the Donald Justice Award, and Fix Quiet (2015) received the New Criterion Poetry Prize. With Texases, the poet turns his full attention to the geography and inhabitants of his home state, offering readers a lyrically rich and formally varied travelogue that seeks to capture what he described in an interview with Lone Star Literary Life as the “complexity, beauty, and difficulty” of the place.