Downspooky

Shanna Compton, Author
Shanna Compton, Author . Winnow $14 (52p) ISBN 0-9764726-4-3
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Vigorous, winningly smart and consistently hip, Compton's debut follows a horde of quick-witted alter egos through a decidedly American, youth-oriented landscape whose sites include high schools, zoos, the football fields of Texas, the kudzu-damaged forests of the rural South, the skyscrapers of post-9/11 Manhattan and the rock and roll lounges of innermost Brooklyn. Compton, who just ended a long stint as associate editor at Soft Skull Press, portrays the pleasures and fears of her generation with "that hookymaking/convincibility of mine," deploying a quick-change lingo of "Slashy Speakers, Nervy Endings" in poems that veer in and out of narrative sense: she shows off a language equal parts angst and speed, with a soft spot for "the longing of the never-ringing telephones" and repeated returns to runaway teens. Compton shows a particular talent for love poems à la C.D. Wright and D.A. Powell: "Your mouth is its own environment a canyon/ with trees and snow," an augmented sonnet proclaims; "lips that have smiled are as limitless as leaves." If some work toward the end of the collection seems too short for its own good, other poems may rocket into anthologies. The whole, meanwhile, reveals great energy and a promise beyond its parts. (Dec.)

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