Voice on the Wind

Robert Richman, Author Copper Beech Press $10 (60p) ISBN 978-0-914278-72-6
Richman, poetry editor of the New Criterion, emerges with a first collection that is guided by form, not content. As a skilled metrist, Richman produces an accomplished tension between meter and speech. In Wordsworthian observations about nature and knowledge, he emerges as more of an enthusiastic witness than a participant in life. His historical poems, such as ""A Cymbal and a Drum,"" favor literary themes (Flaubert's trip to the Orient). Through books (""which point us to love,/ and make the earth laugh?"") Richman experiences the world, which he sees as ""a far-off land/ called Literature."" Waxing poetic about poetry, he takes on an extravagant stance: ""...poems must all be worthy of their paper."" In ""To a Language,"" when Richman explains how he studied German in order to read Rilke, Goethe and Kafka, he tells us that he thought ""one could change languages like marriages or apartments."" He views his inability to make German his own as a failed romance. For Richman, ""To love is to possess, despite the lies/ Spread round by other men."" His lyrics are most affecting when he simply meditates on ordinary subjects: ""The stepped-up shhhhh of rain/ on the street, and the enormous/ weight of all past loves, suspended/ from above, pushed up from below."" (June)
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
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