Vellum

Matt Donovan, Author
Matt Donovan, Author Mariner Books $11.95 (67p) ISBN 978-0-618-82212-6
Reviewed on: 04/02/2007
Release date: 04/01/2007
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Ornate elements from European art and bruised blue-collar lives from middle America (Toledo, New Mexico, Trenton, and elsewhere) form the poles around which Donovan's lyrical debut revolves. ""There's something to be said for the pattern ruin makes,"" he explains, and his own patterns combine ruin and splendor in the manner of great mosaics, with dozens of noun phrases, lists, memorable names of things, adjacent and conjoined in his long unrhymed lines. ""A Blues About Wanting in the End"" finds, in a tree destroyed by beetles, all manner of elegy and suffering: ""the wood honeycombed, scar-sprawled & furrowed;/ the tangle of channels where the larvae have hatched."" ""An East Toledo Map of Ash"" includes ""pastel plastic hangers,// cans, a punctured hose, a framed sketch of orchids streaming from black grass,// black bags cinched with twine."" Another poem begins with an epigraph from a medieval historian, and ends in northern New Mexico, where the poet lives now, and where he finds sources of ""joy: knitted V-neck cardigans; coyote fence posts// looped with wire; a pair of work boots snared in the telephone lines."" Chosen for publication by Mark Doty (who contributes a foreword), Donovan's detail-packed, even bejeweled poems resemble, in spots, those of Amy Clampitt and Albert Goldbarth. Though Donovan's odes may not find the formal complexities of the former, nor the comic variety of the latter, the sheer vigor of his noticings could make him a poet to watch.
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