I often think that I would rather be a painter, but I am not. Among those poets working today, Jane Lewty is one who possesses qualities usually ascribed to visual artists. Her debut volume of poetry, Bravura Cool, imports the movements of the gestural into a textual space, and in doing so, reinvents the age-old dictum that there can be “no ideas but in things.”
The things of Lewty’s poetry are things in motion, and like humans themselves, they are best judged by their actions. That is, Lewty’s work is one of Newtonian inertia, but of the active rather than sedentary variety. Unlike the objects of Stein’s Tender Buttons, whose power relied on the force of their presence, Lewty redirects our attention toward the agency of things, how they not only populate but move through the world.