cover image Out of the Woods

Out of the Woods

Thomas Bolt. Yale University Press, $20 (80pp) ISBN 978-0-300-04468-3

The woods in Bolt's poems are scattered with human debris--rusting cars, plastic bottles and broken glass. Bolt, winner of the 1988 Yale Series of Younger Poets competition, judged by Merrill, handles his subject matter with admirable attention to detail and precision of language; he ranges easily from adjective-replete accounts to stark, minimalist statements. And when Bolt relates the crowded, wasted world to a self that is correspondingly mechanized and desolate, his strange poems strike chords in the reader. But often a detached speaker delineates a realm devoid of tension, drama or change and Bolt's inclination to suggest symbolic meanings for mundanities without fully explaining these is cryptic or heavy-handed. Significantly, ``Six Descriptions,'' one of the volume's most appealing poems, is also one of the few that does not take place in the woods, growing instead from family remembrances to an awareness of death that is direct, personal and painful. (Apr.)