Julie Hanson’s award-winning collection, Unbeknownst, gives us plainspoken poems of unstoppable candor. They are astonished and sobered by the incoming data; they are funny; they are psychologically accurate and beautifully made. Hanson’s is a mind interested in human responsibility—to ourselves and to each other—and unhappy about the disappointments that are bound to transpire (“We’ve been like gods, our powers wasted”). These poems are lonely with spiritual longing and wise with remorse for all that cannot last.
“The Kindergartners” begins, “All their lives they’ve waited for / the yellow bus to come for them,” then moves directly to the present reality: “Now it’s February and the mat / is wet.” Settings and events are local and familiar, never more exotic than a yoga session at the Y, one of several instances where the body is central to the report and to the net result (“I slip in and fold / behind the wheel into the driver’s seat like a thin young thing: / My organs are surely glistening. This car was made for me.“). These poems are intimate revelations, thinking as they go, including the reader in the progress of their thoughts.