Jay Meek, Author Carnegie-Mellon University Press $11.95 (80p) ISBN 978-0-88748-081-2
In these polished but ultimately static poems, Meek ( Earthly Purposes ) frequently shifts locales--from a church in Italy to Manhattan's Grand Central Station, from a lakeside to an aquarium. These beautifully rendered, mutating scenes form a backdrop to inner meditations whose tone and subject matter remain remarkably fixed. Poem after poem concludes with traces of a sensibility troubled by its own inability to change and by its own introspectiveness (``Much of my life I've been moving more deeply into myself, / until I can hardly tell who I am''). The strength of many pieces rests in specific descriptions: the rituals of travel (``laying out razor . . . / on a shelf wiped clean of any past''), a horrifying, spare account of Hiroshima victims attempting to drink from a river. Such intensely vivid moments are diminished by Meek's reliance on generalities and the first-person plural (``Our small lives . . . ''). But perhaps the predictability and sameness of these poems is inherent to Meek's undertaking--to convey a spirit both keenly perceptive and distracted, numb, unable to feel. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/30/1989
Release date: 05/01/1989
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