This Pittsburgh-based poet's latest volume, selected by Eavan Boland for 1997's National Poetry Series, wears its working- class credentials on its sleeve. Gibb's neo-proletarian poems—arranged on the page in the semblance of forms—moan and whimper about the lost world of mill workers and the unique glow that defines the industrial Pittsburgh and nearby Homestead. The past weighs so heavily on the poet that he can—t enjoy the weather (—Lines in a Slow Thaw—) without thinking of the great lockout of 1892. The only greater burden is the memory of his father's madness (—Fathers and Sons—), and his cremation (—Fire Poem—), which he inevitably links to the mill fires. —Entering the Oven— and —First Day——two of the strongest poems in the volume—both record in fiery verse the poet's own time on the graveyard shift at the plant, and the dizzying heat of working inside the great ovens. Elsewhere Gibb's subjects exist in solemn relation to his sounds: his celebrations of music are themselves tone-deaf; and his defense of drunkenness (—Letter to a Friend's Wife—) couldn—t be more sober. Memories intrude on the present in Gibb's somber verse, as drab and gray as the cityscape that haunts him.
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