Any Keep or Contour

Audrey BohananPublication: March 15th, 2019

£9.99

Finalist for the 13th Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize

Audrey Bohanan's poems track the human endeavor to create order out of the cluttering rummage of the psyche. As they grapple to keep their hold on the world apparent in observable, naturally occurring phenomena, they sometimes turn to the quieter successes of other species out from under the wiles of civil government, sometimes to the speechless and acute innocence of childhood, always insistent on an inevitable reason for hope. Even as the wilder, curative landscape vanishes, they light out for what is left of it with a sense of “an incessant being alive,” where nothing but limitlessness sets its own limitations.

Coming Soon

ISBN: 9781904130956 Extent: 80pp Category:

Any Keep or Contour

‘In the precarious,’ Audrey Bohanan says, as if that is a nutrient-rich place where we might linger, a meeting place for what can and cannot be said. Her way into the beyond is not through hushed tones, but through language that is dense and physical, thick-textured, filling the mouth and mind, quirky and sublime in the tradition of Hopkins. This poet knows earth and what grows on it, and those who tend to that growing. Any Keep or Contour renders landscape into a language that knows its roots, and Bohanan speaks with remarkable insight as when she calls an oil spill ‘quietly violent,’ or hears in each repeating phrase of a dove bereaved of her young, ‘one more thing she cannot cross off her list.’ These are poems to savor slowly for the rich flavors of their language, for their densities and exactitudes of sight and insight, and their deep feeling for what is frail, endangered and overlooked. This is a profound and beautiful book. – Betsy Sholl

If Seamus Heaney and Dylan Thomas randomly collided in the quantum universe and miraculously produced a brilliant daughter, she would be Audrey Bohanan. In her poetry you may ‘quell fits of cut-throat narrative with a fine blind-stitch’…’when the stick-work dams burst / in erosion of cut-banks, in undoing / the soul-rim of you by largo of floodtime.’ In Any Keep or Contour, landscape and life alchemy are her trade, and language is her medium like no one else I have read. – Rustin Larson

Two poems from Audrey Bohanan’s Any Keep or Contour
 
The Far Beyond with Indigo Buntings

“And so when we examine a nest,
we place ourselves at the origin
of confidence in the world.”
– Gaston Bachelard

There is no sparing of the always thinking
out. Time, now, for the emptiness of their nest
to be filled with the sound of small wings under
big thunder. There is no picking the past tense

out, as fused as oil of myrrh put anywhere
close to Nei silk, the bond becomes eternal
as the future. It is solid. They are gone,
by feel by now they are flying, by tonight

they will be heading out across the spillage
of constellations in the South sky, which they
keenly skirt beyond the concrete of, as slick
as a sublingual curative in dodging

the complexities of the spleen. All in how
they bushwhack around the more damply hummocked
brain regions. She wove in Sweet Canary Grass
to ride the sundown tipped in crimson waves, scent

of Lady’s Drawer from fields mown inland, upland
by the tide, to gather them back to high ground.
And to meet the mid-rib, there she laid in fur,
kill of Cottontail or jumping-mouse to be

sorrowed after. To keep the hearts of the young
from being broken, so they will be broken
less often. I am not fitting their dark flight
to my makeshift bind of comprehension as

little backdoor collection agency claims
on the soul. Nothing there can be returned to.
While in their coverts they keep safe each likeness
the stars come up with deeper than scar tissue.

 

Soft-Footed Fictions

In which the moon comes up through the trees breathless,
as if it had never felt the rise before.
It’s in some other time that I let it break
treeline ahead of when I go unrolling
my whole emballage of tools. Which is to say,

to rework the sheen of the moon’s perfection
as by a directive, to say it could yet
be improved upon is as with so many
memories, those with a surround that later
on looks dim and unconvincing, those that need

taking down to the sard, to raise the relief
they sit in. The perfect ice is done. This was
back in a time before wintering owls had
started to sing on the Nesting Place of Crows
River, when ice flash-formed to a calm so deep

it spooled away the cutting edge of friction
as with the state someone’s death brings you into
before you hear the knock at your door, before
you know it more than in your marrow. Of ice
as smooth as it would get only once as far

as I can remember. There I was, which is
to say, with the moonlight glancing off my blades
like the limited entitlement to what
can be seen in the beforehand. Like the miles
of fiction about to be stripped by houselights,

by hovering destination raising its
backdraft of wings, memory, the upstream stride
of it, had soft-footed out ahead. To know
of no village square to arrive at, know time
would be turning back on a dime before that.

 

 

Excerpts

Two poems from Audrey Bohanan's Any Keep or Contour
 
The Far Beyond with Indigo Buntings

“And so when we examine a nest,
we place ourselves at the origin
of confidence in the world.”
– Gaston Bachelard

There is no sparing of the always thinking
out. Time, now, for the emptiness of their nest
to be filled with the sound of small wings under
big thunder. There is no picking the past tense

out, as fused as oil of myrrh put anywhere
close to Nei silk, the bond becomes eternal
as the future. It is solid. They are gone,
by feel by now they are flying, by tonight

they will be heading out across the spillage
of constellations in the South sky, which they
keenly skirt beyond the concrete of, as slick
as a sublingual curative in dodging

the complexities of the spleen. All in how
they bushwhack around the more damply hummocked
brain regions. She wove in Sweet Canary Grass
to ride the sundown tipped in crimson waves, scent

of Lady’s Drawer from fields mown inland, upland
by the tide, to gather them back to high ground.
And to meet the mid-rib, there she laid in fur,
kill of Cottontail or jumping-mouse to be

sorrowed after. To keep the hearts of the young
from being broken, so they will be broken
less often. I am not fitting their dark flight
to my makeshift bind of comprehension as

little backdoor collection agency claims
on the soul. Nothing there can be returned to.
While in their coverts they keep safe each likeness
the stars come up with deeper than scar tissue.

 

Soft-Footed Fictions

In which the moon comes up through the trees breathless,
as if it had never felt the rise before.
It’s in some other time that I let it break
treeline ahead of when I go unrolling
my whole emballage of tools. Which is to say,

to rework the sheen of the moon’s perfection
as by a directive, to say it could yet
be improved upon is as with so many
memories, those with a surround that later
on looks dim and unconvincing, those that need

taking down to the sard, to raise the relief
they sit in. The perfect ice is done. This was
back in a time before wintering owls had
started to sing on the Nesting Place of Crows
River, when ice flash-formed to a calm so deep

it spooled away the cutting edge of friction
as with the state someone’s death brings you into
before you hear the knock at your door, before
you know it more than in your marrow. Of ice
as smooth as it would get only once as far

as I can remember. There I was, which is
to say, with the moonlight glancing off my blades
like the limited entitlement to what
can be seen in the beforehand. Like the miles
of fiction about to be stripped by houselights,

by hovering destination raising its
backdraft of wings, memory, the upstream stride
of it, had soft-footed out ahead. To know
of no village square to arrive at, know time
would be turning back on a dime before that.