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In a field/ I am the absence/ of field./ This is/ always the case./ Wherever I am/ I am what is missing."" That indeed is the essence of poet Strand: his wholeness is always negative space. The early poems employ a single image or scenario--horrific, wraithy, dessicated, nostalgic--and iron out its least crease; later poems do bead a few notions together, but the hang remains very straight. And the resonances that survive are invariably sepulchral (""I have a key/ so I open the door and walk in./ It is dark and I walk in./ It is darker and I walk in""), with some of them even edging into the unintentionally hilarious: ""My hand is dirty./ I must cut it off""; or--from ""Pot Roast""--""I gaze upon the roast, that is sliced and laid out/ on my plate/ and over it/ I spoon the juices of carrot and onion./ And for once I do not regret the passage of time."" The playlessness, the idealized ennui, the strict absence of verbal intelligence--what a burnt tongue for a poet! Still, it's hard to take exception to another man's void, and Strand's stare at emptiness seems particularly and consistently ""pure""--hence, his awfully inflated reputation. Those who can find infinite grace and even charm in felt blankness, then, will find this a representative selection; those looking for flesh, blood, or mental vivacity, however, will want to look elsewhere.

Pub Date: Oct. 30th, 1980
ISBN: 0679733019
Publisher: Atheneum