The BlueStone Walk: Poems

Edward Nobles, Author Persea Books $14 (85p) ISBN 978-0-89255-247-4
Nobles's second collection presents two distinct poetic sensibilities. The bulk of the book works squarely in the time-honored American tradition of sentimental realism, but numerous poems evince the influence of Continental surrealism and expressionism. While neither approach is consistently successful here, Nobles fares better when working in the American grain. The book's first two sections contain many of its strongest moments, as Nobles quietly plumbs themes of time and memory with a wrought attentiveness to the natural world and a number of quotidian, often antique or castaway, objects: ""Chipped white ceramic,/ with little green left,/ legs knocked off,/ hands clasped, upward dredged/ distorted grimace,/ a drunkard's image/ of what a saint might be."" Far too often, however, descriptive imagery can stray into cloying sentiment: ""everything is distant, hidden/ in time's mystery, a deep happiness/ that floats with me, within me,/ on my small raft."" Poems on the difficulties of desire can fall prey as well (""Lust is like a canyon--steep, rugged,/ a long way down""), or turn aggressive, as when a rat emerges from the toilet and wages an intimate attack on the speaker, ""followed by rat after rat after rat."" Not all of Nobles's figurative or expressionistic efforts are this graphic, but many are as self-indulgent. The book's final section, however, a long collage poem about childhood, shows Nobles attempting to synthesize his approaches, hinting at the promise of a next collection. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/31/2000
Release date: 07/01/2000
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