The Americans

David Roderick. Univ. of Pittsburgh, $15.95 trade paper (88pp) ISBN 978-0-8229-6312-7
Roderick (Blue Colonial), associate professor of English at UNC-Greensboro, meditates on identity, citizenship, faith, and war in his second collection of poems. He veers between a restrictive summarizing of the American Experience (as in the poem "After de Tocqueville," which references Cortez, Satchmo, Columbus, the Choctaw, Willa Cather, Walt Whitman, and Jack Kerouac) and more successful examinations of his own particular American identity. The book is split into three sections, interspersed by a series of epistolary poems addressed to a generic "Suburb." Through these he interrogates his tense relationship with this symbol of 1950's homogenization. In the first "Dear Suburb" poem, Roderick admits to being drawn towards suburban sterility, a "need,/ that scared need to whiten/ or clean a surface: plywood or lawn." But he also declares this to be a kind of infestation: "though you live/ inside me, though you laid eggs/ in the moisture at the corners/ of my eyes, I still dream about/ your sinking empire." Roderick's poetry exposes the uneasy correlation between domestic comfort and U.S. militarism: "I think of the Enola Gay parked in the Smithsonian,/ where a woman smashed a jar of blood on its wing./ When I signed my mortgage, I also signed/ for the peonies and for the shield of my yard's/ tall trees." (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/2014
Release date: 08/01/2014
Genre: Fiction
Discover what to read next