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Published: Copper Canyon Press - April 4th, 2017
Together and by Ourselves is a fitting title for Alex Dimitrov’s newest collection of poems, and that’s how you’ll feel when you’re reading it: connected to others and utterly alone—sometimes both at once. The thing I love about Dimitrov’s poetry is the way it turns the ordinary on its head. For me, one of the strongest poems is “In the New Century I Gave You My Name” because of lines like these:
Hurricanes came, storms couldn’t please us:
it was all very fast and beautifully made.
You ask why I’m thinking of death
but I’m thinking of you and it’s fleeting.
We were terrible, unrelenting and everywhere then.
All I know is I can’t stop writing about people.
So much happened. I can’t stop writing about love.
There’s the conflation of the storms with death and then people and then love, and I’m not entirely sure how all of these things are one and the same, but they are.
There’s a rapid pulse in Dimitrov’s poems, almost like he tries to write them before they run away from him. The title poem “Together and By Ourselves” captures this:
People are mostly what they can’t keep and keeps them.
And inside the circular cage of the Ferris wheel you saw the world.
In the steam, on the mirror: you wrote so so so . . .
so if you’re looking for answers you’re looking
at every water tower around here.
Why does the sea hold what it loves most below?
As a writer, there’s a lot for me to learn here about rhythm and the ways a poem can turn. As a reader, as a person, Alex Dimitrov’s poems’ examinations of money and fame also push me to consider the ways in which isolation and connectedness sleep in the same room together. You should check out this collection, and then catch Alex on Twitter where he and Dorothea Lasky are the @poetastrologers.