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To 2040

April 25, 2023
80 pages 
Copper Canyon Press

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​​Jorie Graham’s fifteenth poetry collection, To 2040, opens in a question punctuated as fact: “Are we / extinct yet. Who owns / the map.” In these visionary new poems, Graham is part historian, part cartographer as she plots an apocalyptic world where rain must be translated, silence sings louder than speech, and wired birds parrot recordings of their extinct ancestors. In one poem, the speaker is warned by a clairvoyant that “the American experiment will end in 2030.” Graham shows us multiple potential futures—soundtracked by sirens among the ruins, contemplating the loss of those species who inhabited them and those who named them.
In sparse lines that move with cinematic precision, these poems pan from overhead views of reshaped shorelines to close-ups of a worm burrowing through earth. Here, we linger, climate crisis on hold, as Graham asks us to sit silently, to hear soil breathe. An urgent open letter to the future, with a habit of looking back, To 2040 is narrated by a speaker who reflects on her own mortality—in the glass window of a radiotherapy room, in the first “claw full of hair” placed gently on a green shower ledge. In poems that look to 2040 as both future and event horizon, we leave the collection ever more awake to the deep beauty of this world we could destroy, as well as urgently seeking guidance. “Inhale. / Are you still there / the sun says to me.” And, from the title poem, “what was yr message, what were u meant to / pass on?”