Vagrant Grace

David Bottoms, Author Copper Canyon Press $22 (90p) ISBN 978-1-55659-130-3
Bittersweet atmosphere and the occasional vivid perception sustain a solid collection whose subject matter is rather commonplace. In the best poems, like ""The Mad School,"" Terranova (The Cult of the Right-handed Woman) enriches melancholy with deeper (and often darker) perceptions: ""The children, too, are growing./ But they are asymmetrical in their growth/ like trees on a hill that the wind/ only blows one way."" Another strong poem, ""White Heifer,"" carries an understated emotional charge in its description of a woman's mourning over the death of a child: ""nearly stumbling over the loss,/ like a leg she could not touch down on."" Terranova's verse is consistently lyrical, but it's often so quiet in tone that the underlying emotions are muted. Individual poems often startle, but this collection doesn't coalesce into more than the sum of its parts. Those works in which the hidden tensions surface fully, however, are compelling, as in ""Story in the Style of Henry James,"" in which one man, confronting another, ""cracks a bottle on the rail./ He holds what's left above him at arm's length/ as if he fears it too."" (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/04/1999
Release date: 01/01/1999
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 95 pages - 978-1-55659-129-7
Show other formats
Discover what to read next