Amy Gerstler’s New Poetry Collection Explores the Overlapping Chapters of Life


Regular readers of this column might not know that nationally acclaimed poets walk among us in L.A. Amy Gerstler, for one, lands poem after poem up in that alpine range where only the strongest writing can breathe without supplemental oxygen. The five sections of her new collection out today, Scattered at Sea, suggest a rough sequence of life’s overlapping chapters: youth, sexuality, aging, death, an afterlife. Early on we glimpse a girl who “tingles with kisses she won’t receive for years.” By the end a demigod is advising us to “leave off seeking what wounds you. I won’t warn you again.” Archness intrudes only rarely (like using “visage” twice in three pages), and Gerstler keeps the wow-to-huh? ratio of her occasional surrealism just right. Witty as an Ian Frazier parody, humane as a Jean Renoir film, she resorts to dream logic only when no other logic will do.