MORE TROUBLE WITH THE OBVIOUS by Michael Van Walleghen

MORE TROUBLE WITH THE OBVIOUS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Winner of the 1980 Lamont Poetry Prize for a best second book, Van Walleghen (The Wichita Poems) chattily fashions the easygoing quality of mid-American speech into poems which are really far more sophisticated than they make themselves out to be. He regularly defuses pomposity--""What good is it?"" or ""What good does it do?"" are frequent, mid-poem rhetorical phrases--and though this sometimes leads to excessively cute ironies, it as often snows him the appealing combination of rough and not-quite-ready. ""Crabapples' and ""Rancho Lindo Vista"" are as swiftly encapsulative of plain American sadness as the better stories of a writer like Raymond Carver. ""Mistakes"" and ""Arizona Movies"" exhibit lessons profitably learned from early Williams, the exhilaratingly clean measures of Spring and All. But Van Walleghen is estimable most perhaps for his recapture of the prose poem from the epicene precincts around which it usually loiters. ""Do Not Dump Dead Animals"" may be the best of these prose poems-a metaphor for the perfection (yet, too, the unspeakableness) of heaven--but half a dozen others are also impressive. There's something deadpan yet unaccountable and movingly terrified about this work; and, impossible to ' excerpt, they ought to be tasted for oneself. A superior book.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1981
Publisher: Univ. of Illinois Press