The pleasurable and difficult work of reading a Norman Dubie poem is like the endeavor of giving shape to our contemporary experience. Amid the Mach-speed stream of information and sensation, we try to make sense of the world, even while minding the ways our efforts might too easily make sense, might falsify our experience. To read a poem of Dubie’s is to enter into the middle of a story—but the story is always about to crumble, even as you piece it together: the strange and luminous details, glimmering with lyric intensity, pull against any tidy integration into the plot. And yet the general effect is not collage or mashup: the stories do matter here, and as a reader you work to hold the constituent fragments in any kind of truthful relation.
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