Blue Guide

Stephen Yenser, Author . Univ. of Chicago $16 (89p) ISBN 978-0-226-95135-5

Though his verse debut, The Fire in All Things , earned respect, Yenser remains best known as a critic, an expert on Robert Lowell and on James Merrill; a Merrillesque lightness, mandarin self-consciousness and penchant for puns animates much of Yenser's output. His sophomore effort shuttles and shifts back and forth between L.A. and Greece, between autobiographical material and critical reflection, and—most of all—between exuberance and wit. A poem about a painting "of sea and sky" muses "as though we were to find/ 'Aphorism' and 'horizon' rhizomatous,/ Sprung from some Ur-word"; another, about receiving an MRI scan, begins by converting medical "imaging" into the admission "I'm aging." His poems on his own L.A. childhood and his untrustworthy father offer less prettiness and more power. Yenser is most at home, however, in realms bounded by words themselves, exploring the language's innards and making notes on the nature and history of speech. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 04/03/2006
Release date: 04/01/2006
Hardcover - 89 pages - 978-0-226-95134-8
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