ELEGY ON TOY PIANO

Dean Young, Author . Univ. of Pittsburgh $12.95 (90p) ISBN 978-0-8229-5872-7

Staccato and frantic, created by long series of declarative end-stopped lines, Young's sixth collection confidently balances moments of absurdity against high drama and raw admissions of emotion: "Our camouflage works best/ galloping en masse in discotheques./ We are very gentle with our young." The book is dedicated to the late Kenneth Koch; when Young writes of a power drill telling a canoe, "You don't have a clue," he really means it. The title poem recalls something of Auden's elegy for Yeats, in sentiment if not in tone, and slyly contains self-doubt: "His work has enlarged the world/ but the world is about to stop including him./ He is the tower the world runs out of." When Young's poetry works, his particular mix of the silly and the deadly serious increases the poignancy of the poems, so that in the first poem a long series of unconnected images and references (Marilyn Monroe, a squirrel hanging on a transformer, a third-grader "loose in dishwares") culminates heartrendingly in this question: "Will we never see our dead friends again?" This book of energetic, chronic juxtaposition pieces together a winning, tinkling set of send-offs for friends, and for feelings. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 01/24/2005
Release date: 01/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
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