Staff Reviews: Climate Reply / by Washington Square

Climate Reply by Trey Moody

These poems occur in a forest of sorts. These poems occur at night.

Trey Moody’s poems aren’t nature poems in the traditional sense—that is, they’re not clear heirs apparent to the works and poetic lineages of Wordsworth, Thoreau, and (to a lesser extent) Whitman—but are instead indicative of a newer, hybridized breed of poem that simultaneously inhabits the natural and human spheres. Trees abound, but so do kitchen utensils. “The loud knives // gleam along the forests” Moody writes in “The Listener, the Land,” and the encroachment of each world on the other gives the reader the sense of having stumbled upon a rusted-out mechanical relic in the woods at night. Or, equally plausibly, an oak tree mysteriously growing through his kitchen floor in the pre-dawn hours of the morning.

Moody’s poems also separate themselves from traditional nature poetry in the same way that Whitman’s, and later Frost’s and Glück’s, do: the inclusion of human beings and human agency. “When I open the fridge // in the middle of the night, I can hear / you thinking behind me,” Moody writes in the fourth section of “Dear Ghosts,” titled “Hum of the Fridge Like Thought.” Ghostly presences persist through Moody’s poems, presences the narrator “misse[s]… the most” and whom he entreats to “knock once if you believe // in structural security, twice / for mutual relationships.” While domestic images—light bulbs, refrigerators, cellars—contribute to the dual sense of interiority and exteriority in Climate Reply, the clincher is the human element, the component of the collection that makes the dialogue implied in its title possible. Who’s replying to the climate? To whom is the climate replying?

Trey Moody’s book doesn’t answer these questions, but it does complicate and compound them: echoes respond to echoes, people talk to the night sky, bodies commune and communicate with bodies. These poems are equal parts visceral and surreal, expansive and personal, and if you can’t read poetry alone in the woods at night, reading Climate Reply in your kitchen at 2:00 am may just be the next best thing.

-- Eric Weinstein, Poetry Editor