The first third of this collection comprises the California-based novelist, biographer and poet's second book of poems, Coyote Tantras , and sets the volume's overall tone--the poet as a meditative, lonely observer, haunted by memory's ``ghosts'' and caught in the seasonal vicissitudes of experience, with an eye for plain but evocative detail. Gifford, especially in the Tantras , embarks on the personal, restless incorporation of various influences--particularly Chinese, Japanese and French thought, painting and literature--that characterizes his oeuvre. Oddly, Gifford's spare, elliptical poems, formally ``open'' and underpunctuated but readily comprehensible, are least like the art he loves when he takes it directly as his subject ( Persimmons ), and at times the poems' influences seem too much their raison d'etre. Many read as notes, and, since their formal and thematic range is narrow, their power tends to be cumulative. But Gifford, while he lacks his formal genius and social passion, at his best ( The Boy You Have Always Loved ) recalls William Carlos Williams: particular, lyrical but laconic, compassionate but unsentimental. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1988 Release date: 10/01/1988 Genre: Fiction
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