In this, the fourth volume to win the Brittingham Prize in Poetry, Lisa Zeidner’s twenty-two poems introduce a surprising range of characters, from a cryogenically preserved caveman to a 78-year-old widow arrested for shoplifting. Some of the narratives collected here are unusually long (like “Dementia Colander,” a mock-epic about the history of an unnamed nation whose king suffers a rare disease). These poems attempt to offer not just poetic moments, glimpses of joy or loss, but a sense of self in time and history—whole lives in all of their busy-ness and disorder. Lisa Zeidner’s dark wit considers any subject, from the Holocaust to child abuse, a subject for intellectual playfulness and emotional discovery.
Despite the range of subjects, the poems in Pocket Sundial are bound by a concern for time, for how we think about time. These are poems about memory, foresight, anticipation, regret—all of chronology’s complexities.