Anthem Speed affirms Christopher Bolin’s emergence as a singular stylist in twenty-first century American poetry. By turns austere, gritty, futuristic, and visionary, Bolin’s poems trace the romance between beauty and destruction like vapor trails, seeming to emerge from nowhere and yielding a lucid, unearthly glow, an evocation of absent presences and scattered signs: “among / the disinformation of the distress feeds,” Bolin writes, “a pilot hears his coordinates / being called by other planes.”
This collection evokes the vividly mysterious remnants of a lost civilization. Its preoccupations are unnervingly familiar: war, injustice, brutalization of land, air, water, and species, technologies of terror and dehumanization. Simultaneously antique and space-age, inhabiting a world of elemental rites and of artificial imaginations, Bolin tests the acoustics of operating rooms, battlefields, courtrooms, and mountainsides, and envisions—with animal acuity—a world imperiled and empowered by its leaders and myths.
“What won’t a ‘saint with a shovel’ unearth in these exquisite, disquieting, soul-trawling poems that variously mine, measure, tally, sample, body-scan, and heat-capture our bereaved universe? Anthem Speed drops us here in the ruins mid-song, in wonder and sorrow, dappled ‘in forensic light,’ holding on to Bolin’s dire music for dear life.”—Robyn Schiff, author, A Woman of Property
“With a jade eye, but never a jaded one, Christopher Bolin offers us our contemporary condition’s ‘changing symbols / in forensic light.’ Here the world is an ongoing apocalypse, where ‘the uranium thinning quail’s eggs’ hint at a wider irradiation, where ‘birds’ bodies smell of smoke,’ and the images chatter their jagged clarities through the Geiger counter’s static, and the logic of the lyric poem suffers such mutation that one line’s leap to the next can feel like a gnostic juxtaposition. Search engine bots vie with capital’s half-life to claim the human heart’s worried worth, and the security state sings to the link satellites that surveil us. And yet a strange hope runs its electric current through these lines: not that all is not lost, but that the very evidences of our vast dismantling can be rebuilt into another structure, ones that witness the world even if it cannot heal it, while quietly suggesting that a meaningful life still exists, and these poems are our path to it.”—Dan Beachy-Quick, author, Arrows