Incidents of Travel in Poetry: New and Selected Poems

Frank Lima, edited by Garrett Caples. City Lights (Consortium, dist.), $18.95 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-0-87286-667-6
Vibrant and sprawling, this overdue volume captures the wild range and astounding breadth of a lifetime of poetry produced by New York School member Lima (1939–2013). For readers new to Lima’s work, Caples provides a fine introduction, describing Lima’s “lives,” beginning with his difficult youth in Spanish Harlem as the son of an alcoholic father and a sexually abusive mother. From these dismal beginnings, Lima proceeded to live a shifting and wildly varied life. A high school dropout and heroin addict, he earned an M.F.A. in poetry from Columbia University, married five times, and became a counselor for recovering addicts, an alcoholic, a professional chef, and father. Poetry followed Lima through each epoch, and as he reinvented himself, so went his poetry. About half of this collection is devoted to his prolific and previously unpublished later work, produced from 1997–2003. Far from the “warm corridors of youth,” these poems are long-lined and supple, examining exhaustion, love, and “life moving over the skin of the earth.” Night, darkness, dreams, and stars echo throughout, a stage for mortality and the wonderfully prosaic: “The photocopier makes the stars seems nearer,/ Like gift-wrapped lilacs in the dark.” This collection is not to be missed. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 12/21/2015
Release date: 01/01/2016
Genre: Fiction
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