By David Rivard, Graywolf Press, $15.00, 88 pages

I enjoy studying and writing poetry, and I have read and thought about many poems. Still, I don’t have any special skills that would make me an expert in poetry. When I read David Rivard’s latest book, I admit that I struggled and did not completely grasp many of his poems. Despite that, I would still recommend Otherwise Elsewhere.

Rivard writes in free verse and often juxtaposes images or references that I cannot reconcile. Still, those images are fresh and often surprisingly global in their scope. Furthermore, certain poems speak eloquently to me. For example, in For Lynda Hull, Rivard revisits the memory of a friend’s overdose and eventual death, and then confesses his somewhat irrational fears for his newborn daughter. In a feat of poetic brilliance, he closes the poem by tying the image of the cedar coffin to the cedar chest holding the dead woman’s gift for the newborn. That poem and several others make me want to continue to struggle with those poems that I do not understand because I will be the poorer until I do.

While neither easy nor light reading, Otherwise Elsewhere is worth the effort.

Reviewed by Annie Peters