Sure Shot CL

Erica Funkhouser, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $18.95 (110p) ISBN 978-0-395-63750-0
Funkhouser's ( Natural Affinities ) second book of poetry in 10 years is divided into two parts. In the first, 26 short poems range over a variety of subjects, including domestic life, death, love, friendship, loss--standard lyric themes; in the second are three long narratives told by the personae of Sacajawea, Louisa May Alcott, and Annie Oakley, the ``sure shot'' of the book's title. Narrative unifies the book; apparent lyrics are, in fact, small stories. And perhaps because there's so much story, the poems are accessible, pleasant to read, filled with details. But also because narrative dominates, all too often the moment of poetic discovery never occurs; it's subordinated to plot. The poet's father, she explains, was a man who ``taught us to worship facts.'' She was a good pupil--facts abound. In Funkhouser's long narratives, voices exist to convey these facts; they fall short of carrying the poet's vision. The best poems (and they are good) are written mostly in the first person, and contain the urgency of personal quest. The poet here gives up fact for the power of utterance, and the song she sings rings true. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 11/02/1992
Release date: 11/01/1992
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