DUSIE: “A Response to Practice, Restraint”

“As a child of suburbia, many of my summers were spent immersed in a kidney shaped pool, reveling in the underwater world’s offerings: the suspension of gravity, strands of sunlight, the slow-motion of limbs and brightly colored bathing suits. The mutations of sound and image both compelled and calmed me, much like Laura Sims’ collection, Practice, Restraint.

The theme of water persists throughout the book. As the image on the cover suggests, we are tiny figures floating through deep and expansive spaces, often alone. Many of poems devote attention to silences and invite the reader to pause and breathe into the vastness of negative space. Her poems suggest a ‘dissembling’taking place. In ‘Democracy,’ from her aptly titled ‘War Book,’ she asserts:

One verdant minute

after the next, the love of the people

Eludes him.

What does it mean? One thing unfolds

as a chain of things: the failure of making

a fantasy park

out of war…


Moments are illuminated, not entire stories. She captures images and narrative threads that telescope and teleport: ‘Her hand/Is the winter’ (2) and ‘A wave/fixes the world’ (50). The reader’s eyes float down easily, and then are submerged into a building awareness of isolation. There is an eerie resonance at work, an element ready to break the surface. Consider ‘Bank Thirty-One’ (from her ‘Bank Book’):

Trees over here

Over there

In one empty classroom

The girl is turning

The town inside out


The worst is



Throughout the collection we encounter underwater cities, sold children, backyard peacocks, errands from God, absences, prostitutes, Moses and personal logos. I could envision many of her poems translated into short films.

She has been called minimalistic, yet her work is far from simple. She illuminates darknesses, all that recede, fade, and slip under without notice. Sims reaches a steady hand down into the unknown and unknowable and comes back with poems that gleam.”

Heather Sweeney (Summer 2009)