Lime Green Chair
The Waywiser Press (Eleanor Brasch Enterprises), $24.95 pb, 93pp, 9781904130512
Lime Green Chair, which is Chris Andrews’s second book, won in manuscript form the Anthony Hecht 2011 Poetry Prize. Andrews is also a prize-winning translator from the Spanish of Roberto Bolaño, César Aira, and others. Lime Green Chair translates and transforms everyday moments into auguries of time disappearing. Each of these mostly 21-line poems is finely patterned with unexpected rhyme and vowels that ring into a following line, as if directed by some hidden constraint: ‘Sounds that came into the world in my lifetime / already sound old-fangled: dial-up modems, / the implosion of a television tube / in a set dropped from a high window ...’ (‘Sonic Age’). A resigned tone, anchored by reluctant maturity, is partly formed from the persistent hendecasyllabic lines, and the grammar of present tense slipping into past and conditionals, with spiralling, diffident, qualifying phrases. These thirteen- and eight-line stanza poems each comprise 231 syllables, as the last poem ‘Envoy’ confides. An early poem, ‘The Light Sinks’, begins: ‘It’s day number sixteen thousand and something / and what have I seen?’ Almost certainly, this book contains a fittingly equal number of syllables. Lime Green Chair is split into three sections, as was Andrews’s previous book, Cut Lunch (2002),with the final section partly attempting to placate the quandaries of the first. These first and last sections follow his unusual 21-line verse form, while the middle section’s eight, mostly longer, poems are in a freer narration.