Fata Morgana

Reginald Shepherd, Author . Univ. of Pittsburgh $14 (104p) ISBN 978-0-8229-5951-9

In his intense and mournful fifth collection, Shepherd (Some Are Drowning ) mixes myth, TV, street lingo and fidelity to the poetic tradition to create poems that elegize a world which, as in the phenomenon after which the book is titled, is distorted and bent out of shape. Opening with a series of stunning, possibly autobiographical revisions of the Orpheus/Persephone myth ("One death/ or another every day, Tanqueray bottles/ halo the bed and she won't wake up/ all weekend"), Shepherd continues through cautionary tales for an era when almost everything seems unsafe ("I left my love of me behind/ to fester in the slough of cast-off self/ -regard, with other toxic wastes, condoms/ I forgot") and redressed literature for a darkened age ("Ophelia/ sings flowers in hell to all the goodnight/ ladies"). A 9/11 poem confesses to the obsession TV engenders: "I have watched twin towers fall/ a dozen times." Shepherd's rigid stanzas and ear for music in a minor key spread this bad news beautifully. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 02/26/2007
Release date: 02/01/2007
Genre: Fiction
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