Fondy’s (There Is Not More of Wonder, 2013) new collection offers poems that peer into the past while speaking to future generations.
In the opening pages of this eclectic new volume of verse, Fondy identifies himself as a member of the “orphan generation”—the postwar children who saw so many of their elders give their lives at places such as Pearl Harbor, Normandy, and the Savo Straits (where the author’s older cousin perished). In this book, he looks back on the interceding decades and offers poetic advice for generations to come. One early poem, “World War II: A Tribute,” recalls that conflict but is addressed to “our grandchildren and beyond”: “Embrace us forever, though our time is ending, / From shared life together, our music descending. / When dawn lives awaken, to one human family, / Remember lives given to crush race tyranny.” A number of other poems from the first part of the book are similarly, and productively, grounded in recent history; others look back further in time. “Being to Becoming,” for instance, sings the praises of the redwood tree, which for “4000 years / Pierces the sky.” And “To Our Millennium Ending” compares humans to “drops… / from the misty mountains / Of two thousand millennia ago.” In sum, the past is never far from Fondy’s mind, but rather than making his verse seem dated or irrelevant, this retrospective view only lends gravity and deep feeling to his words. In truth, the author seems as interested in current events as he is in the wide sweep of history. A variety of other poems take on the controversies of the day—the Iraq War, the secretariat of Donald Rumsfeld, the concentration of wealth in America, and the country’s reliance on fossil fuels—and many advance the author’s progressive politics. But much to his credit, these poems speak less to any blind partisanship than to the fire in his belly. Scattered among these political reflections are other gems, including poems on love, family, science, and God.
Poignant, powerful meditations on time, change, and the events that shape our lives.