Worldflow: New and Selected Poems

Michael Heller, Author Talisman House Publishers $10.5 (130p) ISBN 978-1-883689-49-0
Reflecting on the state of contemporary poetics, Heller writes that ""some of the poets have discovered/ that we are anxious to disconnect/ the dots and words."" This desire, he suggests, follows from an awareness that ""cliches abound,"" obscuring truth. ""And yet love's obliquity/ is still a language,/ a tutoring mastery of desires and hurts."" Heller's poetic stance is easily observed in this selection of poems that spans his career: his work is generally elusive and formally conscious enough to persuade the reader to follow along with him. The mixture of convention and experiment can spawn moments of merely didactic philosophizing. But at his best the results are eloquent: ""the eye and mind are led/ To the moon's loft, to the bird aquiver,/ To the serpent's gentle coil.// That they connect,/ Connect like consciousness/ In concentric whorls// Or like stations of the cross/ Through loves, hates, errors . . . / These flimsy beatitudes of order."" Spanning 25 years (from three volumes beginning with 1972's Accidental Center to the new poems), the works gathered here attest to Heller's centrality in the practice of contemporary poetry. (May)
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
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