Hardwick’s bitesize collection belonging under this heading, though, is a beautiful exploration of what prose poetry means to so many writers: it is the undefinable. In these moments, Hardwick asks that we lean on ‘a muscle memory… a mix of faith and reflex, like a small religion’ (“Space Invaders”) and it is in doing so that we, the reader, find a way to explore these works fully. Hardwick borrows from familiar languages and less familiar structures – is it prose, is it poetry – to explore the ways in which memories slip down the cracks of mind. The memories, then, or rather the writing, is rooted in moments of familiar; things ‘patterned with words we let drop, smudged at the places where we almost touched’ (“The Universal Petting Zoo”), building a mosaic of what it means to age and, inevitably, misplace parts of the whole.
Learning to have lost, such as the title suggests, then, explores places of near-contact through a series of carefully worded – and equally carefully constructed – pieces of near-prose, near-poetry. Genre aside, this was a beautiful set of writings that I ate greedily in one sitting and, for those who are looking to explore the craft of prose poetry, this is a collection I heartily recommend.