Stone Crop

Jody Gladding, Author, James Dickey, Foreword by
Jody Gladding, Author, James Dickey, Foreword by Yale University Press $30 (48p) ISBN 978-0-300-05543-6
Paperback - 50 pages - 978-0-300-05544-3
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In a lukewarm introduction, Dickey (who chose this unimpressive volume for the Yale Younger Poets prize) praises Gladding's kinship with nature. Moving on to the poems, one finds only the most superficial understanding: ``The locust thought / she'd die, she laughed / so hard.'' Couched within prosaic and labored stanzas, the imagery throughout this book is unspecific, hence cliched. ``What's true remains there,'' she says in another nature poem, describing roots buried under snow. Those few poems that contain concrete images are even less believable: ``Little boat, / you can bear us / over the dark, over the broken water'' a minuscule poem about pregnancy begins; in another poem she writes: ``Under the clothesline / I find a whalebone corset / and try it on.'' Dickey might have more aptly pointed to Gladding's affinities with his own work: the volume's most ambitious piece, an eight-poem sequence on ``the eight situations in which it is difficult to see the Buddha or hear the dharma'' seems a weak, overlong imitation of his ``The Heaven of Animals''; other poems haltingly strive for the dream-like narrative that is Dickey's trademark. (July)
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