The New Year of Yellow

Matthew Lippman, Author, Tony Hoagland, Selected by
Matthew Lippman, Author, Tony Hoagland, Selected by Sarabande Books $13.95 (88p) ISBN 978-1-932511-46-8
Reviewed on: 01/01/2007
Release date: 01/01/2007
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This lively and humorous prize-winning debut follows a cranky-but-secretly-exuberant persona as he ""deeks and bops"" through the inner-city experience in 34 light-hearted free verse poems. This forty-something protagonist passes his time pondering existential crises such as ""What do you do in the mid-afternoon/ when all of your business has been taken care of / and there is only the nap?"" or deciding ""It is time for me to start making love to Joni Mitchell."" Lippmann revels in the minutiae of life that most people don't pause to notice and, despite pretensions of haplessness, his speaker is very much a thinker. His mind lands on mock-serious problems such as ""Everyone wants a monkey,/ I can't afford them,"" but he also has time to contemplate Diane Arbus' suicide and the way ""Sometime at the end of the 1980s the Holocaust closed down for me."" Contest judge and kindred poet Tony Hoagland's introduction suggests this book will make anyone laugh, but its real strength and surprise is in the occasional moments when Lippmann treats memory seriously and tenderly. ""Where Are All the Puerto Ricans"" concludes with the touching moment of desperation: ""Where are you now, Pedro Gonzalez,/ Stand up, I can't find you."" These moments suggest a greater range than Lippman initially displays.
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