Backwards Days

Stuart Dischell, Author . Penguin $16 (63p) ISBN 978-0-14-311255-6

Blue-collar heartbreak and terse, hard-won wisdom dominate this vivid fourth outing, in which crowds of men and women try to do “the basic human thing”: Dischell’s quiet protagonists traipse riverbanks, promise to “attend/ The weddings and burials,” and mull the connections between mourning and rejoicing, hope and memory, lust and love. The clever title poem declares the poet’s affections in terms drawn from a kindergarten ritual; a surprising pantoum tells a story about “a blind girl in Paris.” Some of his best works are compressed narratives: “Tale of the Garret,” for example, updates a familiar fable in order to ask how the airy concerns of the imagination might blind us to the concrete causes for other people’s pain. Dischell (Dig Safe) takes his metaphors from all over (anthropologists’ “first contact” with primitive tribes, for example) and his sometimes dysphemistic cadences from such gritty inventors as Charles Simic: his figures of speech may shock (“I went to kiss/ The cat-tongue rough/ Of her each bent knee”), but his core concerns are down-to-earth. Dischell’s sometimes gruff (and always brief) poems ask where dejection and affection can manage to keep each other in good company—if not for a lifetime, at least for a page or two. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 10/15/2007
Release date: 10/01/2007
Genre: Fiction
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 80 pages - 978-1-4362-4889-1
Open Ebook - 80 pages - 978-1-4362-4666-8
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