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This debut collection by a Univ. of Pittsburgh writing professor makes you pay attention from the outset: Buck's unusual choice of adjectives, her off-kilter metaphors, and her dreamy narratives announce a poet of intensity and intelligence. Buck surveys both a geography of the imagination and places she's clearly visited in person, though sometimes the two seem to converge, much as her descriptions of human bodies segue into remembered scenes of travel: in Spain, she imagines herself a freighter that no port will allow to dock; she makes love in the Arabian sand; in Budapest, she gambles at the race track, and hopes ""to belong to the lithography of place"" (""The Turkish Baths""); and in East Germany, before reunification, she poses the drab exteriors next to the remnants of former beauty (""Chandeliers from an Old Regime""). Buck attends to the contours of the body (which is ""behind the wheel/ of the soul's inebriate ride"") as carefully as that of landscape: she travels her own and that of her lover, but her eroticism is muted by her refractive style. Buck sees people and objects as reflections of light, and limns them with painterly strokes: ""The Balcony,"" inspired by a Manet canvas, nourishes her dreams of flight. And though there are confessional undertones throughout the book--a sense of a troubled marriage and a breakup--Buck announces as warning: ""I have not told the truth yet."" The superb ""Discourse on Monogamy and Flight"" sees both slantwise, dwelling not on self but on Amelia Earhart, bats, flies, and saying goodbye to a lover. Like Hart Crane, Buck submits to her visionary instincts in language that sometimes simply baffles, but often exhilarates.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0807123048
Page count: 64pp
Publisher: Louisiana State Univ.