Likely: Poems

Lisa Coffman, Author Kent State University Press $9.5 (72p) ISBN 978-0-87338-555-8
Coffman's skillful, absorbing collection was selected by Alicia Ostriker as the winner of Kent State University's 1995 Wick Poetry Prize, an award given annually to a poet who has not previously published a full-length collection. In long-lined narrative poems steeped in detail, Coffman links the past century's miners', mill workers' and farmers' wives with their present-day descendants, depicting circumscribed lives filled with daily grace and loneliness. In ""Glenmary, 1990,"" Coffman writes: ""Summer: one child's in the cellar for lying,/ four shout with the high voices of running/ where the yard grows dark."" This journey into the soul of working-class, small-town and rural America avoids risky territory, touching on a passive frustration without ever fully exploring it. The poems often end in soft generalizations or safe natural imagery. ""Rapture,"" which owns the provocative line, ""I have thought I might be a hater of Jews,"" concludes: ""we must turn of a piece/ but there is nothing so good/ as the row of furrows cut in the earth."" Coffman is at her best when she refuses to pull her punches, as in ""Romeo Collision,"" which moves directly yet with subtlety into the intersection of love and fear. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 12/02/1996
Release date: 12/01/1996
Hardcover - 72 pages - 978-0-87338-554-1
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