LILAC CIGARETTE IN A WISH CATHEDRAL by Robin Magowan

LILAC CIGARETTE IN A WISH CATHEDRAL

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A much-published poet and writer on travel and bicycle-racing, Magowan delights in miniatures; his deliberate myopia focuses on specific things, sometimes as simple as the vowel ""o,"" while his breathless rhythms in short, often unpunctuated lines mix an Anglo-Saxon plainness with an Eastern mysticism. A rough guide to exotic locales, he watches fishermen dancing at a seaside""taverna,"" where he lingers on grape and olive. The dizzying dance of the sailors tumbles into words that also capture the frenzy of a mescaline trip, with its out-of-focus synesthesia. Magowan lives ""in the locked shadow"" of his heart, which leads him, Zen-like, to absurdist moments of clarity (though also finds him stuck in empty squares). In his Asian poems, ""Pagoda"" or ""Tesi Lapcha Pass,"" his lines resemble Japanese brushstrokes, and yet in Cameroon, he echoes ""the jungle-jangle jolt"" of riding in a van on unpaved roads. Magowan's hermetic aesthetic-""I can see, not be; not both/At once""-is a mandarin taste, but anyone can marvel at his ability to link words until now unfamiliar to one another.

Pub Date: April 30th, 1998
Page count: 90pp
Publisher: Univ. of South Carolina