Let’s Let That Are Not Yet : INFERNO arrives right on time while managing, in its depth and breadth, to be timeless, presenting an indelible example of what poetry might look and sound like when it strives to engage critically with our contemporary world. Reverberating with a lyric form and flow grounded in the backbeats of hip hop, jazz’s improvisatory play and R&B’s soulful truthtelling, and fully conversant with multiple traditions—from Shakespeare through (Po-)PoMO and popular culture—these poems put the political back in poetics and poetry back in the news. Pavlic´ connects his personal stories to larger histories, drawing into his ken everything from marriage and fatherhood to racial, sexual and class politics to past and ongoing social, political and economic struggles in the American South, the Balkans, Syria and Palestine, Ferguson, and New York City. This is the work of an assured poet and critic who does not flinch from looking at and questioning what is going on around him, revealing the deeper and often painful rhythms of our existence, while also willingly checking himself and his own subject position and perspective. “I think about how much in our bodies, our actions, our syntax is somewhere, simulated-somehow somewhere gunfire.” Some of us are dying, this collection suggests, echoing William Carlos Williams, from lack of the many truths found here, but it reminds us, like another of the book’s avatars, James Baldwin, that the best art offers a new vision, and that in Let’s Let That Are Not Yet : INFERNO, our time is now.
John Keene, National Poetry Series Judge