Measured by Stone

Sam Hamill, Author
Sam Hamill, Author . Curbstone $13.95 (91p) ISBN 978-1-931896-40-5
Reviewed on: 08/20/2007
Release date: 09/01/2007
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Well known as the founder of Copper Canyon Press and the head of the protest group Poets Against the War, Hamill has also proven himself as a prolific poet and translator. This 16th volume of accssible, outspoken free verse pays frequent homage to Japanese and Chinese classics, and to the 20th-century poets Hammill has admired: Martin Espada, Kenneth Rexroth and especially Denise Levertov. Like his heroes, Hammill presents a model of honest, consistent, undisguised political engagement: he articulates not only a vision of peace with justice, not only his relish for work to achieve that vision, but his sense of the role that poetry can play: “We need the tale/ that spins the spell that gives us/ eyes to see.” He understands, too, that even the most energetic and committed poetry of protest may not always seize the day. Yet the power sympathetic readers are likely to find in his new collection has little to do with self-doubt, and everything to do with the sense that poetry can speak out clearly and try to change the world at least a little bit: “Here's to a poets' revolution,” he toasts, “to the joy/ of being always on the side that loses.” (Sept.)

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