Time's Fancy

Ronald Wallace, Author University of Pittsburgh Press $25 (75p) ISBN 978-0-8229-3868-2
Part of what sets Wallace apart from other poets who write about personal and family life is his virtuosity with complex forms. This collection provides ballades, canzones, sonnets and pantoums in abundance. Yet Wallace is no mere technician; he weds considerable formal command with grace, passion, intelligence and wit. The most effective poems are those that seem to offer the most effortless touch or the most unassuming subject matter. A sonnet about a bird's nest becomes an occasion to marvel at a small daily miracle, while a poem about a pair of skirmishing cats prompts a meditation on consciousness. Wallace is also an astute portraitist, capturing his subjects quickly, as in a sonnet sequence that recalls every gesture, vanity and tic of childhood teachers: Mr. Watts ``sat cross-legged on his desk,/ a pretzel of a man, and grinned/ as if chemistry were some cosmic joke.'' He is on less sure ground in poems about an anorexic daughter and in others about his father, evidently a deeply embittered sufferer of multiple sclerosis. Although artfully shaped, such revelations seem invasive, like a stranger's unwelcome confidence. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/31/1994
Release date: 11/01/1994
Paperback - 96 pages - 978-0-8229-5548-1
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