Review: What’s This

A Review of Reed Bye What’s This (Lunamopolis, 2015)

 The newest issue from Lunamopolis, The Lune Volume 1, Number 5, is the newest work by the contemplative poet Reed Bye. The Lune is “poetry as correspondence,” a pen pal, subscription-based unbound literature.

Between hoodies and whitewash, google, Shakespeare and cigarettes, What’s This offers readers a glimpse into the world as Reed Bye sees it: beautiful in its naked, dynamic purity. From the title piece itself, the text is “so beautifully coordinated/ and at such depth.”

And from “Real World,” “what can hold?” Bye strips the illusion of stasis, of permanence. In the final “Epitaph,” “tomorrow is a day/ one is never far from.”

The title itself proves the subtle complexity, the humble genius, of the work itself. What’s This is not the question—contraction—what is this, but the possessive, the this of what. In the text, Bye looks upon the world, not wondering what is, not looking to analyze or project, but pondering the essence of everything he encounters.

The work explores the poetics of love, of bureaucracy, the mundane and the profound, and peels back with the realization that there is no space between the two, there is no spectrum; they are one.

In “Like A Wind,” Bye writes, “if it brings you to your senses/ Who could object to the world’s pull?” This work is the power of the world’s pull; brings you to your senses, brings your feet closer to the ground, allowing you to feel more acutely the air in your lungs.

The structure of the text contributes to this oxygen. Each poem is contained as a terrarium, with space to grow and breathe.

The unbound structure of the work, characteristic of Lunamopolis as a press and The Lune as a series, uniquely affords the terrarium air, soil and moisture. Further, the moon-sliver pagination and lack of a table of contents eschew the ordering of a traditional text, allowing alternative readings. One poem at a time. Backwards. At random. Once you pull the text out of its envelope, it is alive. If you drop the pages, you may never pick them up in the correct order, for there is none.


– Sally Seck, Gesture Poetry Editor

GestureReview: What’s This