Blues If You Want CL

William Matthews, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $14.95 (64p) ISBN 978-0-395-51755-0
This pellucid, rousing eighth collection ( Foreseeable Futures ) combines anecdote and revelation with the rhythmic structure of music--specifically, blues. Concerned largely with loss and reconciliation, the poet's tender but realistic vision strains to uncover those redemptive elements of compassion and empathy that coexist with pain. On the concept of the limits of language, Matthews notes, ``what we lazily call `form' / in poetry / let's say, is Language's desperate / attempt to wrench from print / the voluble body it gave away / in order to be read.'' Story-like, these poems are composed of what might be termed alternate narratives: the primary action or crisis is acknowledged but not pursued. Instead, Matthews focuses on secondary material, the aftershocks of the event, which bear a symbolic as well as narrative impact. Describing his defection from his family, a narrator concentrates on their house: ``The way the cops `lift' / fingerprints, that's how I touched the house. . . . / I took what I could. / Each smudge I left, each slur, each whorl, I left / for love, but love of what I cannot say.'' Elegiac, these poems nonetheless progress steadily in their recognition of change and perseverance. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1989
Release date: 10/01/1989
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 64 pages - 978-0-395-51756-7
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