I’ve been following Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s career since her first book, and her latest, Oceanic (released this April from Copper Canyon Press), is her strongest, most confident writing yet ... I believe she channeled her energy during that time into this powerful volume packed with intimate details of the creatures of the earth, as well as the passions of the speaker’s (and presumably the writer’s) life ... Nezhukumatathil has always been a skilled observer of nature, celebrating the natural world for its wonders and unique characters ... While Nezhukumatathil engages with dark themes in this book, she isn’t afraid to spend time on small moments of beauty and humor ... From sea stars to elephant tigers, from her children and husband to the speaker’s own scars, Oceanic conveys a rare sense of awe and unsentimental passion for the earth, its creatures, and the universe.
Aimee Nezhukumatathil sings an ode to earth and sea in her stunning fourth collection, Oceanic (Copper Canyon; $17). Sensual and vivid, her poems invite us deep into the water ... Her images are lush with eroticism, always close to the body and its experience of wonder. She blurs the line between human and animal, casting herself (and her beloved) variously as a scallop, a whale shark, a penguin, a starfish. Such marvelous acts of transformation reshape us as we read.
There are so many reasons to return to Nezhukumatathil’s poems—her affinity for the natural world, her ability to write a love poem that truly works, her humor that surprises and salves—and Oceanic reminds me of yet another: how she can offer readers so many routes within a single poem.