Voices Cast Out to Talk Us in

Ed Roberson, Author, Andrew Welsh, Foreword by University of Iowa Press $16 (166p) ISBN 978-0-87745-510-3
Roberson's dense poetry has achieved acclaim (this collection won the 1994 Iowa Poetry Prize) while he has maintained a low profile as a university administrator. But a combination of public and private interests occupies this volume, which features two long poetic cycles reminiscent of Pound's Cantos. The 50-page sequence (including 45 13-line poems titled ``This Week's Concerts'') is contained within the elliptical ``Lucid Interval as Integral Music'' and considers a broad range of American themes-war, racism, assassinations and urban violence. Lines like ``had given blue feet to police siren such/ that I thought the scream a jazz jade bowl and a step'' achieve coherence as images of America in disarray are repeated, varied and replayed. ``The Aerialist Narratives'' is a more personal, somewhat autobiographical sequence about relationships, centered around the images of the moon. Roberson is downright straightforward here-``The trees on the other side of the rapids didn't/ impart the peace we'd set off our escape for''-although it's impossible to pin down ``facts'' about much of the poet's life. (An introduction by Andrew Welsh gives some of that information, but its laudatory tone ill-serves the work itself.) Roberson's simple message, however, that things in life are hard to pin down, is reiterated with authority in numerous ways throughout this complex, fine collection. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/01/1995
Release date: 05/01/1995
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