A PRIVATE SIGNAL: Poems New and Selected by Barbara Howes

A PRIVATE SIGNAL: Poems New and Selected

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Admirers of Barbara Howes' previous volumes of verse will be glad to have this opportunity to reread old favorites, and to see what the poet has been up to lately: a generous sampling. Howes writes delicate verse that attempts to be precise. She plays with old forms; some poems resemble a villanelle, or perhaps a rondeau. All attempt the formal style, all aim at a structure, all are decorous. Many are damaged by inaccuracy right where precision matters, in their metaphors. A needle's eye does not resemble a convolvulus. So many small mistakes of fact and fancy: modern Oxford is not a stronghold of Christian faith, the point about migrating geese's formation is its shapeliness, not its ""straggling."" Sand is not a fellow creature, whatever one's views of creation. Individual poems have their interest. ""Here reigns/ Color, landscape, form,/ Rock, peacock, antelope/ Composed on an emerald field."" In the end, sheer bulk overwhelms the reader. There are not enough ideas in this volume to hold up its weight.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1977
Publisher: Wesleyan Univ. Press