VISIBLE SIGNS: New and Selected Poems

Lawrence Raab, Author . Penguin $18 (208p) ISBN 978-0-14-200269-8

Gathering work from five previous volumes with new poems, this selected shows film, landscape and art as recurring subjects for Raab, but only as vehicles to access the internal realm: "today, when I saw / how tenderly the light was moving among those trees / I thought of you." The earlier work here provides some relief from the general uniformity of the collection's plain style: Mysteries of the Horizon (1972) and Collectors of Cold Weather (1976) betray an early interest in surrealism, as well as a deep inheritance from Williams-style imagism. By 1987's Other Children, Raab has settled into the familiar poetic terrain of the first-person meditation; ruminations on the everyday world of walking the dog and watching the sleeping child dominate. His last two books, the National Book Award–nominated What We Don't Know About Each Other (1993) and Probable World (2000), continue in this vein: "You open the thermos of coffee. / It's Saturday. This is happiness, you think." The new poems are likewise concerned with the daily epiphany: One poem asserts, "How easily we can make ourselves sad/ just thinking. How little/ that buys us." But unlike Billy Collins's fairly thoroughgoing domestic optimism, Raab's sensibility is at heart resignedly and reluctantly dissatisfied: "Most of it/ is done already... yours/ is the same old life a thousand people/ had the good sense to keep to themselves." The work is not ambitious, but it is sincere and well-crafted, or, as one poem murmurs: "The studied poverty of small observations." (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 04/21/2003
Release date: 03/01/2003
Show other formats
Open Ebook - 208 pages - 978-1-101-17606-1
Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4177-0463-7
Open Ebook - 208 pages - 978-1-101-17714-3
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Email Address


Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.