Reviewed by Joshua Jones
Michael Bazzett’s second collection of poems, Our Lands Are Not So Different, pokes fun at thought in order to raise the stakes for the way we think about the world. It can be hard to laugh given the current state of public discourse—harder still to laugh about epistemology, which was never very funny to begin with—but laughter reminds us that the ridiculous is actually ridiculous no matter how powerful or pervasive. Bazzett’s poems, therefore, do the necessary and paradoxical work of making us laugh at our terrors and shudder at our joys.
Reading through the poems of this collection, it’s hard not to make a connection between Bazzett’s interrogation of the way we know and the “post-truth” world we’ve stumbled into. For instance, in “Nine Possible Observations to Consider,” Bazzett writes that “It is a truth universally acknowledged that absolutes are not to be trusted. Fortunately, plans are underway to etch this into the cornerstones of public buildings.” But while this poem and so many others in the book are politically invested, it would be hasty to lump them in with a great deal of contemporary political poetry criticizing the current administration. Instead, Bazzett’s book is better read as a prescient cure to a sickness we’ve only recently seen the real symptoms of rather than as a direct commentary on current events.