—Ari Lohr, "A SONG FOR THE GAY BOYS WHO NEVER CAME HOME FROM PRIDE"
Gravity, Ari Lohr's newest & from Gutslut Press, precedes the table of contents with four facts about space. The latter just as assuredly introduces its four sections: LOVE, RAPE, DEATH, and NOTHING. Already, we know Lohr will be dragging through the dirt of the world's most traumatic experiences.
I felt I had experienced a lifetime with Lohr by the time—and every time—I finished this collection, and yet its power is pure, potent adolescence. Still, despite the heartbreaks and insecurities typical of a (queer) teenage experience—despite the violence, the injustices that still should never be, yet are—Lohr's confidence in expressing those nuances is clear.
Overall, I enjoyed Gravity for its exploration of ways that words can take up the page (fitting, I think, for an exploration of space as concept). It jumps through wormholes from prose poetry, to shape poetry and erasure; even more, it weaves narratives together with celestial control. Until the end of the collection, Lohr is not afraid to keep revisiting ideas, themes—entire poems, even, that we'd mistaken for finished punching us in the gut.
I quite literally gasped at some of these lines, which of perfectly evokes the author's imagery of being trapped: in outer space, maybe, but also in one's unoxygenated body. In the end, these poems are their own new planets, and each adapts, shapes itself to the material; they build us lifeforms to worship as metaphors for hurting, then healing. Truly, Gravity is a fresh take on material with centuries of contemplation to its name.
The title poem is a standout among them all, in my opinion, with so many quotable lines I'd be reciting it all by including them.
Of course, I'm not going to do that! Please go ahead and purchase the book to see all of the magic for yourself. Reminder: Gravity is now available for purchase from Gutslut Press (co-run by our Editor Ami Sanghvi!) in both print and digital formats; go, be grateful for the chance to read just like I was.
You can also take a look at Lohr's other work by visiting their website.