Book Review: The Visible Planets by Aly Pierce

North-shore poet writes a book about planets seen


The Visible Planets
by Aly Pierce
Published by Game Over Books
ISBN: 978-1-7324986-7-9

Over the summer, I said these crucial words to anyone that would listen: “Fuck poems about the Ancient Greeks, they are past their prime. Can we not move on with our lives?” Perhaps I read a bad poet (or two, or three), but c’mon. Eenough with the Greeks.

Even writing this review I still feel that, essentially, poetry invoking the Ancient Greek lexicon is like The Beatles of poetry, overused, already heard, I get it, Ancient Greeks are cool, poetry utilizing Grecian themes can be good, but enough already.

Anyways, months went by, and eventually I saw that local poetess Aly Pierce wrote and put out a book via Boston’s own Game Over Books. The thought never crossed my mind that the book would be about, or have as one of its main themes of all things… the Ancient Greeks.

So I reached out and the book arrived. Thank you, Aly, and Game Over Books.

No bear with me dear reader as you watch some one eat their words faster than Mark Strand can eat poetry.

This book is phenomenal. The invocation of all of the themes in this book are woven in as beautifully, accessibly and powerfully as only Aly Pierce can do. Pierce gives me hope for poetry in the long term. Why? Because of this fact: the last thing you’ll be thinking about when you read this book is poetry.

Aly takes on outer space and universes (small and large) like no other poet before. Of course there have been numerous historical and contemporary poets to take on STEM topics, but not quite in a contemporary Massachusetts setting that is both refreshingly real and an accurate heartfelt depiction of life, heartbreaking loss, science in motion, and! and! a dramatic invocation of Ancient Greek themes.

I really think this is the way forward for poetry. Poetry that continually reconceptualizes what poetry can be. You can write rhyming poetry, poems about ancient greeks, free verse, anything in the past but you still really have to tip your hat to Aly Pierce’s courage and devotion to a poetry that is about anything but poetry.

Take these lines from the poem “Avogadro’s Number”:

“Revise: my elemental addiction isn’t as simple
as one gram of hydrogen. I’ve expanded. Ditched
puffs of smoke for dead matter, from spirit to iris,
demanded the constant apply in the physical world.”

That slight turn of phrase there, “Ditched/ puffs of smoke for dead matter…” is a wonderful poetic ride to take in a simple enjambment. That is just so luminous, deft, and reveals constant dynamics. The opposites throughout this book between the large and small, life’s happiness and sadness, inwardness and outwardness, on and on, are so deftly executed yet poignant in their friction and revelation through poetic line. These poems don’t need to be about poetry because Aly uses poetry as the perfect vehicle to tell her narrative.

I highly suggest buying this book to have your mind blown, your scientific knowledge tested and your poetic inspiration piqued.


Chris Hues is a human & writer from Boston, Ma & Associate Editor of bostonhassle.com. //// They can be reached at [email protected] or @crsjh_ via instagram & twitter.

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