The rarest magic is hidden within the mundane, and the poems in Chris Cottrell's chapbook [luvthrong] struggle to reveal the profound beauty tucked away in your lover's morning breath, love-aborted suicide attempts, and the headaches that come from contemplating the divinity that has always been contained within ourselves.

Undoubtedly, the Portland-born Cottrell's travels as a continent-trotting, wide-eyed young poet gave him plenty of time to examine his personal poetics, where a gentle flow is only enhanced by sudden stops and redirections. "Look into your own head and be amazed," he exhorts in "esostaring contest," and this same theme of transcendent self-knowledge recurs in all of the pieces, no matter what the contextual framework of the poem. The former WW intern revels in that glorious yet terrifying place where hope ends, not through the simple negation of desire, but through desire's ultimate triumph.

[Luvthrong] is a collection of exceptional moments and inner journeys so individual that they strangely become universal. Cottrell's poems bear a resemblance to two other masters of the gross and the sublime, Bukowski and Brautigan, but this collection brings a wild, impatient joy to those same beer-fuelled brushes with destiny. It's not a stroll in the park; these spare, brief poems demand intense concentration to make out more than feel-good love or adolescent angst. But by the end of this slender chapbook, Cottrell the poet attains a threadbare sort of enlightenment, and the patient reader will see a reflection of herself in Cottrell's fractured mirror.


by Chris Cottrell