Ryan Nowlin’s poems are intellectual, tender and surreal. In Time with the Season, he takes the reader on a quest for understanding everyday consciousness. Who am I? he asks. Where am I? “What if the graph of set / expectations is itself unmoored / and you no longer know / where you’re standing?” While longing for intimacy and connection, Nowlin’s narrator turns to things in the world—an orange, a pigeon, or “a fly in the trash”—then he segues into the world of ideas, or surreality, ending smack up against our shared mortality: “you appear and disappear like a comma swimming against the current.” Nowlin’s thinking poems are beautiful and seductive meditations on what it means to live in our time and our season.
In “Time with the Season”, Ryan Nowlin negotiates the world’s “weird joys, embattled alleys, districts of intimacy, avenues of relief”, using an impressive arsenal of quicksilver diction and association to delineate his journey. Along the way, surrealistic flights alternate with the poignant disconnects we all experience as we “flinch from something that shuffles slantwise through the sleet”. A wry paraphrase of Coleridge – “wrappers everywhere/not a bite to eat, said the pigeon”, bounces off dark humor “A train to Rahway/or Linden would be/like taking death to the stars”. Woven throughout is the tender recognition that we are all provisional, “bounded by time and season”.