THE GATEHOUSE HEAVEN by James Kimbrell

THE GATEHOUSE HEAVEN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

paper 1-889330-14-0 Chosen by Kimbrell’s former teacher, Charles Wright, for the Kathyrn A. Morton Prize, this fine debut volume also comes with a perfunctory preface by Wright, whose fulsome prose ill serves the modest achievement of Kimrell’s fluent verse. Often inspired by the landscape of the South, Kimbrell soon makes clear his preference for —the view above ourselves,— his desire to see from the perspective of the stars. —Mt. Pisgah— beautifully evokes a country scene of a —beam bridge/Above the snake-thick waters,— and —A Greeting— takes the poet back inside a southern mansion where, as a child, he joined a sÇance. At the same time, —Self-Portrait, Leakesville— suggests the need to leave behind his rural past, and a group of poems set in South Korea nicely answers that call. Other childhood episodes occasion charming poems: playing hooking to sit atop a horse in a barn; a night of wonderful passion with a —rebellious Pentecostal daughter;— and his lust as a teenaged stock clerk for a comely married customer. At the heart of the volume is the long title sequence about the poet’s father, a mentally disturbed bricklayer, whose stays in the asylum lead to lots of familial discord and eventual divorce, but most of all to utter helplessness on the poet’s part. Seeing him years later, with his voice box removed, Kimbrell dwells in the silences between them (—My Father at the North Street Boarding House—), the same silences that pervade a failed relationship (—Letters to a Vanishing FiancÇe—). Strong work by a poet of much promise.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1998
ISBN: 1-889330-13-2
Page count: 80pp
Publisher: Sarabande
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1998