Luminous Ruse

Luminous Ruse

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Author: Paul Naylor

Publisher: Tinfish Press (2020)

In Luminous Ruse, Paul Naylor asks, "Who could suture the wounds we become / in this diaphanous life divided as time?" The poet's answer has a lot to do with his being father to a young daughter, whose sharp questions punctuate the book like koans. That she is growing up in a world dominated by Capital, environmental degradation, and other American ills, drives this long poem-sequence; the poems outward in longer lines, then pull inward in shorter ones, like a long meditative breath.

"Paul Naylor's poems are breaths of awareness attempting to point to the frames of language within which we narrate self and elsewhere. The poems in conversation with the speaker's young daughter feel like elegy as coming and going, living and dying; they allow for the breath of light. These poems are stunning in their rigorous attention to the capital age she enters. Luminous Ruse takes us into the heart of a Buddhist's understanding of 'Between is and is not.' The poems are invitations to readers to enter the page without hope or desire but with awareness of breath. Each page pulses with a lightness towards what is, and attempts with tenderness to 'say what can't be said / in a way that / obviates its own desires?' Luminous Ruse is an exquisite force."

–Tsering Wangmo Dhompa

"The form of Luminous Ruse is a breath: a quiet inhale (one word per line poems) that swells (two, three words per line) and crests (five, six... up to nine words per line)... then exhales (eight, seven, six... one), finally growing still. Individual poems explore language, meaning, experience, meditation, and then, as the poems grow in length, place, relationship, world, love, time... then backwards again to radical simplicity: '...sight / and sound / taste smell / and touch / the truth / of each.' Language, consciousness, the world itself: a luminous ruse, ebbing, flowing. One of our great contemporary philosophical poets, here Paul Naylor becomes a magician."

–Norman Fischer