MESOPOTAMIA by Stephen Tapscott


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We read in the epigraph that actor George Whitfield could ""make men either laugh or cry by pronouncing the word Mesopotamia."" Which is not to say that Tapscott chose this title because he was striving for dramatic, contentless effects, but that his subject matter is ambiguity itself. Wherever he turns--mostly toward the out-of-doors--his deliberate, coolly enjambed lines skim over the surface of things, and the poet sees himself treading through drifted snow ""like a thin man planting diamonds."" Mostly, these are precisely strung variations on the theme that ""so much needs watching my sight is divided."" And while Tapscott admires Picasso for his ability to focus on one woman's face, ""tender and specific as boils,"" amid the horror of Guernica, his own longer poems tend to shy away from that kind of concentration. It's easy to empathize with this young man padding hopefully, warily, around the edges of experience (and sometimes ""my socks dropped down around my ankles in/ my sudden hurry to be there""). An auspicious though tentative first book.

Pub Date: Oct. 16th, 1975
Publisher: Wesleyan Univ. Press