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Meg Kearney, Author . Four Way $15.95 (64p) ISBN 978-1-884800-94-8

Fluent and easy to like, serious in its take on the American life course, this second collection of poems for adults from Kearney (she's also the author of young adult verse) looks hard at the troubles and changes of Kearney's own experience, as an adopted child, as the daughter of an ailing father, as a sometime New Yorker who relocated after 9/11 to northern New England. The first—and perhaps the most verbally brilliant—poems depict the ups and downs of her teens: “When I got my head stuck between the porch rails/ I didn't know enough yet to hate my body, but I knew/ a thing or two about smoking my father's cigars.” Later she portrays herself as a grownup adrift (“Rum & Coke & a New Apartment”). In the city, “The bike-shop bag goes scrish-scrish/ against your leg as you head home,” even as, in Wyoming, “your father's hand trembles, reaching/ for the water glass”; in New Hampshire, “we're street-smart and wary/ enough not to let our Lab run the woods/ at night alone.” Defiance mixed with caution drives her conversational lines. Kearney (An Unkindness of Ravens ) neither finds, nor seeks, great innovations; instead, she presents her life as representative, an occasion for tangents, for sadness, and for joie de vivre. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 11/16/2009
Release date: 10/01/2009
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