Stopping on the Edge to Wave

James Baker Hall, Author Wesleyan University Press $13.95 (80p) ISBN 978-0-8195-1146-1
Hall ( Her Name , etc.), both an avid and dreamy observer of his natural surroundings, writes in a direct, non-metaphorical, prose-like style. However, the gentleness of his often muted images creates such a lulling tone that energy is sacrificed. Passive rather than insistent and commanding, the poems fade quickly. At times Hall deftly captures a moment he has experienced. In ``The First Winter Light,'' for example, he ruefully acknowledges the passage of time and his mortality: ``I forget/ that I am afraid/ and then remember again/that someday I will see all this for the last time./ The light is in the spices, it is lined up on the wall./ It is in the pink grapefruit, halved,/ on the stove.'' Elsewhere the spontaneity is practiced and self-conscious: ``I act/ like a person. A person/ calls and says whatever it is/ a person says. Says/ today. A person says today./ I say today/ over and over, getting it straight.'' Themes of light recur throughout the book as Hall explores its significance in his and others' lives. In ``Monet,'' ``He watched the light work/ from the top of the trees each morning down,/ and felt it roll over in his shoulder each night,/ leaving from the ground up; he watched it/ in the hills, the waves, the stacks,/ that same movement,/ rolling over . . . '' This is a competent and technically correct book, but Hall limits the subjects of his poems and doesn't take risks with language, and a crucial lack of tension results. (August)
Reviewed on: 08/05/1988
Release date: 08/01/1988
Hardcover - 80 pages - 978-0-8195-2145-3
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