Radio Crackling, Radio Gone by Lisa Olstein
Copper Canyon Press
Reviewed by Susan Rich


As a point of reference, Language Crackling, Language Gone, might better serve as the title for this impressive debut collection. The poems are marked by a guiding intelligence that, in turn, shows itself as both elegiac and playful. The worlds of horse barns and wings balance comfortably with garage doors and break-ups as the syntax runs circles around the reader, fragments, and finally comes back together with a reexamination of, or revelation for, the self. The tug of war between a Modern and a Postmodern aesthetic is most evident in work such as "Metaphor Will Get You Everywhere" and "Down to the Finest Particle of Every Falling Strand." At times sparse to the point of emptiness, many phrases fall back on themselves as in: "Once I was very brave. I was very brave once" creating an overall impression of a child’s game where once the trick is mastered, the players quickly move on to other entertainment. Yet, when the toys are put away, the soft purr of the radio remains – consoling and genuinely mysterious. Olstein brings a sparkling consciousness to the page; this is an exciting new voice in American poetry.