The Snow Watcher: Poems

Chase Twichell, Author
Chase Twichell, Author Ontario Review Press $12 (80p) ISBN 978-0-86538-093-6
Hardcover - 102 pages - 978-0-86538-092-9
Hardcover - 112 pages - 978-1-85224-502-3
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For a certain current of American poetry, spare language and deliberate pacing imply zazen, the Buddhist discipline of seated meditation. Twitchell (The Ghost of Eden) draws on that tradition in this fifth collection, while deliberately pulling lyric and memory into the meditative state. Where Gary Snyder might be loosely rhapsodic or Lucien Stryk tautly ruminative, Twitchell is after a middle ground, and the result is often a compelling human tension. Forays into childhood memories acknowledge autobiographical discomfort: ""It was autumn, the adult word for fall./ In school we saw a film called Reproduction./ The little snake-father poked his head/ into the slippery future,/ and a girl with a burned tongue was conceived."" Other poems turn everyday thinkings-out-loud--at the window, the mower, the mirror--into sculpted meditations, or track the difficulties of stilling her restless mind (""I'm bad at it, impatient""). Zen-speak does overwhelm some images (""Snow holds back the dawn--/ an extra minute of lying here/ while the self sleeps on""), and some of the musings on language seem pat: ""words telling secrets/ to no one but river and rain."" But as with the volume's concluding poems, which address the reader directly (""I want you with me, and yet you are the end/ of my privacy"") one feels certain of their immediacy. (Oct.)
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