Wideawake Field

Eliza Griswold, Author . Farrar, Straus & Giroux $23 (80p) ISBN 978-0-374-29930-9

Named for a WWII airbase in the South Atlantic used by the U.S., journalist Eliza Griswold's poetic debut tracks round-trip missions through disaster, both personal and national, from the aftermath of a crumbled marriage to the minefields of the Middle East. Five sections alternate between home and away, exchanging familiar landscapes for foreign battlefields and finding displacement and disappointment in both. An award-winning foreign correspondent, Griswold writes terse poems that unfortunately too often bear the uncomfortable and worn trope of the observer. Other cultures are pressed into the singsong of iambic rhythms and hard rhymes: “The prostitutes in Kabul tap their feet/ beneath their faded burqas in the heat./ For bread or fifteen cents, they'll take a man to bed—/ their husbands dead, their seven kids unfed.” In the collection's strongest pieces, the speaker turns her unsparing eye on the rubble of her own relationships, as in “October,” when she softly admits, “I mourn you sometimes/ in places you would have been.” Though the speaker travels great distances in these poems, the imagination does not; while investigating the complex ruins of war and love, Griswold attempts to snap each poem shut with a summation or moral, often to diminutive effect. (May)

Reviewed on: 05/21/2007
Release date: 00/00/0000
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Paperback - 76 pages - 978-0-374-53130-0
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