Debut collections can fail by having too much or too little by way of style. Reichard's has both the excess and the dearth. Winner of this year's Minnesota Voices Project, these 49 poems are neither offensive nor memorable, written in largely derivative styles that indicate broad reading and catholic tastes without giving much in the way of a distinctive shape to the author's own voice. His subject matter is traditional, ranging from an elegy to Frank O—Hara written in the style of—who else?—Frank O—Hara (—I—m so sick of angels in these desperate years that I won—t give him wings—he's just / hovering / like a nice, horny balloon you see in a Macy's parade, but with an erection in one hand and a pen in the other'somebody get that man a drink!—) to love poetry (—I wish I had a key, the proper code to unlock / the door to his desire, / a dictionary to decipher the distance / which my mind cannot span, / but my dry heart, my lips, my clumsy instinct, / can—) to funeral odes (—My sister, a house haunted to the bone, has built herself again / upon the foundations of fire, where fire kissed her, where fire killed / her husband and three children—). Reichard's a skilled craftsman who can turn a good phrase with a minimum of wasted effort (—the lunar light speaks, / vibrating through bowed glass, / in a language you recognize / but cannot comprehend—), but his efforts stubbornly remain too pale and noncommittal to summon up the interest one wishes they would.
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