Sugartown

David Rivard, Author . Graywolf $14 (79p) ISBN 978-1-55597-435-0

Jazz rhythms and capital-R Romantic hopes infuse Rivard's fourth collection, a comeback of sorts from 2000's Bewitched Playground featuring "three distinct/ not to mention// cloudless/ dimensions to walk inside/ the visible." It's not all sweetness and light, however. Devoted to sketches of human universals, Rivard, who teaches at Tufts University, also gathers plenty of local color: he sees Boston and Cambridge as cities where too much has happened—too much history, too many young people on benders, too much higher education: "the boat crew/ from Alpha Chi" sails down the Charles, and adults console themselves with aquarium shows, but "the wish to be given back/ the child you were once won't work." His free verse manages unusual variety: drastically variant line lengths and extraordinarily long sentences make up his defiant, committed search for grace. Some of Rivard's most sensitive poems concern parents and grade-school–aged children: others are simply sketches of urban scenes in the offhand yet observant manner of August Kleinzahler, a "day of creeping cars rain-flogged," a glimpse of "the skates of a weeping nun." (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 10/24/2005
Release date: 12/01/2005
Genre: Fiction
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