Flow Variations: Poems

Like Lorine Niedecker, Andrew C. Gottlieb gives us the fluid, ever-changing heart of human identity—political, personal, and environmental. In the restless, cascading lines of Flow Variations, water is what we love, what we grasp after, what we fight for. Gottlieb’s lush layering of sound captures this gorgeous necessity in all its protean beauty: “rippled/​ dimples sipping/​ surface bugs under.” But in these keenly observed poems, we also come face to face with water’s merciless materiality—“a river never forgives,” he says, “never compromises/​its vision.” In our moment, one in which “we already know each day brings/​ its glittering assault,” Gottlieb’s precision-tuned language helps us acknowledge both the flows of our own perceptions and the fact that water is “already past/​ you /​long gone.”

Karen Leona Anderson, author of Punish Honey and Receipt

To reconstitute a notion of the Buddha’s, days spent on the water do not count against one’s allotted days. Falling from the clear headwaters, the poems in this revivifying collection approach time’s passage in such a radical manner. While the deft prosody enacts a sense of the illusory, the vivid images of the natural world are crafted with a pine-knot density and durability. Fluvial and urgent and pleasing, this is one of the rare collections capable of enriching days spent astream.

Chris Dombrowski, author of Body of Water and By Cold Water