Tree of Heaven

James McKean, Author University of Iowa Press $16 (84p) ISBN 978-0-87745-505-9
A co-winner of the 1994 Iowa Poetry Prize, much of this wriggling, writhing collection swarms with animals--fireflies, cockroaches, dogs, pigs, magpies, a pelican, a sow bear--whose activities intersect and merge with human life. When McKean anthropomorphizes (``canaries that sing for all/ they cannot have'') and, less frequently employs its opposite number, theriomorphism, ascribing animal qualities to humans, he seems to suggest that the animals have something profound to say about humans, as in the first poem, ``Fireflies,'' which concludes ``How/like us to... wander/ our whole lives, dragging a lamp/ that gives us away.'' In these poems, grouped mainly in the first section, McKean seems to attach a specific significance to the creatures, as though they were fortune cookies. More direct and crisper are the poems in the latter two parts, where human figures, often parents and children, take pride of place, e.g.,``Splitting Wood,'' ``Fire Line'' and ``Silver Thaw.'' Given such clear points of focus, McKean's mostly short lines offer up images that illuminate the human condition from within. These poems are simple, complex and moving. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/01/1995
Release date: 05/01/1995
Show other formats
FORMATS
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.