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This first collection of poems more than justifies the poet's impressive credentials (American Poetry Review, Carolina Quarterly, Epoch, Kayak, New American Review, The Paris Review, Poetry). These are exceptionally competent, sometimes brilliant, moving works by a man whose vision of life is just this side of the surreally absurd: ""We could not know, taking a step back, looking at the total picture, that we would occupy such a small comer of the canvas, and that even then we are no more than tiny clusters of dots, carefully placed together without touching"" -- from a poem on Seurat's ""Sur La Grande Jatte."" He sees himself as a mind divorced from his body, in whom imagination replaces feeling, endlessly guilty for his unexplained failure to be fully human: ""You walk home to your own children, and you have the feeling of sorrow, but not sorrow itself."" His best works are prose poems -- not the usual sludge which characterizes that semi-genre, but simply poems in which line divisions are unnecessary; for occasionally his more conventionally arranged efforts are too self-consciously poetic to be entirely believable. But otherwise, the flaw in this fine and coherent book is its unilateral vision -- as if the poet had an unnecessarily compressed conception of himself: ""Now I am like a stone/ at the bottom of a canyon./ A voice at the end of a tunnel./ Those who love me still/ will never see me otherwise.

Pub Date: Feb. 11th, 1974
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin