Review #44: ‘A Hotel in Belgium’ by Brett Fletcher Lauer

brett fletcher lauer
  • COLDFRONT RATING: four
  • PUBLISHED BY: Four Way Books, 2014
  • REVIEW BY: Timothy Liu

Author Photo: Gretchen Scott
A-Hotel-in-Belgium-front-cover

Writing poems today, even the 20th Century feels like a throwback to a future already past, or as Brett Fletcher Lauer might put it in his long-awaited debut: “the heart / has previously gone in and out of fashion and in this / news cycle is experiencing great heights.” As hemlines rise and fall, so do poetic fads and blockbuster meds, our homegrown strain of Symbolism and Deep Imagism having gone into hibernation (like God) along with the likes of Larry Levis, Mark Strand and Stephen Dobyns all amplifying a more plain-spoken spellbound tradition in lines and stanzas chiseled to last—this would be in keeping with the company BFL assiduously keeps: “It is crucial / that we notice subtleties of raven against sable, love / against eagerness, hear murmurs and distinguish // whether they are whisperings or heavy palm leaves. / It takes commitment. The moon has begun to falter; / the sea hovers over a body holding its breath, waiting / for predators, a cloud. This is as good a start as any.”

Disclosures: This book is equal to the Herculean contributions Lauer has made to the Poetry Society of America over these many years.

Favorites: A Hotel in Belgium, The Portable Twentieth Century, Seaside Suicide, Prologue and Epilogue, After Reading This Poem.

Read two from Lauer at The Awl.