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Goodrich, Christopher. Nevertheless, hello. Bowling Green, KY: Steeltoe Books, 2009. ISBN: 978-0-9743264-9-8. 77pp. $12 [To order: please order directly from the press's ordering page at Steel Toe Books does not yet have a PayPal presence, but do print out the order form and order directly.]



In Nevertheless, hello, his first full length book, Christopher Goodrich not only writes with firm poetic control but demonstrates that irony and wit are not yet dead in poetry. Nevertheless, hello is a strong debut book that will hold your attention from the first poem, "Men are from Earth, Women are from Earth." Goodrich begins that poem with a wry sense of pop culture: I'll admit the idea of a woman / traveling from Venus to love me / is flattering, / but ultimately / ridiculous. He then grounds the poem in reality, introduces himself...from New York, home in Brooklyn. This all seems fairly pedestrian, takes us into some form of nitty-gritty realism, but then Goodrich lifts us right back up:

I'm not the first to come home

to a modest street in Brooklyn

and look to the stars,

or to be more accurate, star.

I am not the last to touch a woman

whose grace I mistake

for moonlight.

Goodrich's collection is filled with such observations: movement from stark reality to something more transcendental, more elevated.

So many of Goodrich's poems speak to us with so much eloquence that we are surprised in a poem like "Because It's Important" to see the speaker at a loss for words. As he leaves his new wife to pay an unexpected visit to his mother, recalling old debts to her, his anticipation builds, I hope to sparkle for her in the light. But, as with most of us, poet or not, plans come down to the every day:

I hope to offer every kindness

and I expect we'll share a cup of something hot


to melt our tongues of old miseries.

She will want to know how the drive was

and I will begin with the only words I have:

How are you doing? And how have you been?

Nevertheless, hello is poetry soaked in the reality of day-to-day existence: routine family life, sex, movement from one place to another. But the routine is leavened by a fine wit and poetic sensibility. In "This Poem Will Not Save Your Life" Goodrich riffs on another pop culture phenomenon, the make your life better books like This Book Will Save Your Life. Goodrich takes that title and applies his own to daily life:

Nor will it walk the dog, forgive

your debts, fetishize your feet.

It will not weep for your children,

beg you to stay, pull the possible

world over your heart like a sunrise.

Books cannot do that; poetry cannot. Goodrich's poem does tell his reader what the book can do:

..............................What it will do

is exist. As complicated and necessary

and frightening as that. As futile.

But it will not save your life. You

have to do that yourself. And you can.

Listen hard. Look into my eyes:

Someone is calling your name.

Damn, that's good. The whole book is. Do yourself a favor: Read it.