Windfall: New and Selected Poems

Maggie Anderson, Author
Maggie Anderson, Author University of Pittsburgh Press $12.95 (112p) ISBN 978-0-8229-5719-5
Reviewed on: 04/03/2000
Release date: 04/01/2000
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Houses, flowers, dogs, foxes, country music, families, poverty, love, anger and grief are only some of the subjects that this book fills out with closely observed details of day-to-day life. Evoking the landscape and struggles both of town and country in the Appalachian region, this collection includes poems from among Anderson's first three books, along with new work. Poems from Years That Answer focus on learning and growing up, before and after a father's death. Those from Cold Comfort expand that personal outlook to take in the history of the poet's family and the hard life of West Virginia mining towns, while the choices from A Space Filled with Moving contain more extended meditations, including what may be Anderson's finest poem, ""Long Story,"" with its shocking final stanza. With an understated irony, as well as a broad compassion sometimes moved to anger, Anderson's poems reflect an intimate and loving knowledge of the world they evoke, and earn their frustrations honestly. Taken as a whole, however, the poems are largely limited to themes and emotional terrain handled more memorably in the work of other poets, and Anderson's cautious presentations often stall in overly mundane language. This is most apparent in the new poems, which are weighted toward the vicissitudes of academic and artistic life. While it may still be possible to write memorable verse about dogs, arts colonies and European vacations, the poems here lack originality and compelling insight. (Apr.)
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