Voices Cast Out to Talk Us in

Ed Roberson, Author, Andrew Welsh, Foreword by
Ed Roberson, Author, Andrew Welsh, Foreword by University of Iowa Press $16 (166p) ISBN 978-0-87745-510-3
Reviewed on: 05/01/1995
Release date: 05/01/1995
Roberson's dense poetry has achieved acclaim (this collection won the 1994 Iowa Poetry Prize) while he has maintained a low profile as a university administrator. But a combination of public and private interests occupies this volume, which features two long poetic cycles reminiscent of Pound's Cantos. The 50-page sequence (including 45 13-line poems titled ``This Week's Concerts'') is contained within the elliptical ``Lucid Interval as Integral Music'' and considers a broad range of American themes-war, racism, assassinations and urban violence. Lines like ``had given blue feet to police siren such/ that I thought the scream a jazz jade bowl and a step'' achieve coherence as images of America in disarray are repeated, varied and replayed. ``The Aerialist Narratives'' is a more personal, somewhat autobiographical sequence about relationships, centered around the images of the moon. Roberson is downright straightforward here-``The trees on the other side of the rapids didn't/ impart the peace we'd set off our escape for''-although it's impossible to pin down ``facts'' about much of the poet's life. (An introduction by Andrew Welsh gives some of that information, but its laudatory tone ill-serves the work itself.) Roberson's simple message, however, that things in life are hard to pin down, is reiterated with authority in numerous ways throughout this complex, fine collection. (July)