Struggling Times

Louis Simpson, Author BOA Editions $16 (87p) ISBN 978-1-934414-19-4
This is the Jamaica-born Simpson's 18th collection; its dry trimeters and tragic resignations should certainly please the faithful fans who have followed Simpson through six decades of acerbic prose and verse about existential resignation and middle-class malaise. Headline news, schadenfreude and the trials of old age are for Simpson just examples of the limits and pains endemic to all human life: in one poem Simpson says \x93that the things we care about/ are suddenly disappearing/ and that they always were.\x94 Yet the new poems, as much as any in his oeuvre, leave room for unexpected happiness: a brisk lyric celebrates the unconventional marriage of W.B. and Georgie Yeats. She took dictation from spirits, he wrote about ungovernable desires, \x93And if it wasn't love/ as love is in the movies,/ they didn't seem to mind.\x94 Many of his new poems raise themselves above the bitterness his earlier work could court. And yet he remains alert to evil, too, as when he writes of notoriously grisly, nightmarish paintings: \x93This angel was painted by Goya/ who doesn't believe in God.\x94 Simpson believes in endurance and the rewards of the ordinary. He can, at his best, make his readers believe in those things, too. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/30/2009
Release date: 04/01/2009
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