After the Point of No Return

David Wagoner. Copper Canyon Press (Consortium, dist.), $16 trade paper (144p) ISBN 978-1-55659-382-6
In his latest collection, Wagoner riffs on his titles—“My Father’s Body,” “Driving,” “Playground,” “What the Marine Biologist Told Me”—delving deep into particular subjects. In “Orpheus Practicing,” we are treated to just that: the oft-poeticized musician “after he’d strung the turtle shell with catgut... deciding which of the strings to pluck.” Wagoner occasionally sounds an off note, as when describing a “homeless drinking man,” whom Wagoner advises to make “a house/ out of the blizzard itself.” The poems that prevail are the ones in which Wagoner throws a kink into the expectation that forms when one reads his titles. “On the Road” tracks a caravan of overindulgent wisdom-seekers whose ambitions are as nervy as the poetry with which Wagoner renders them: “we’d filled the moat as high as the first drains of the palace/ that should have had a prince and a princess and a king and a queen/ waiting for us inside it, showing us how to be wise, but didn’t.” It’s here that Wagoner pushes past the subject of his titles into a place of real urgency. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/26/2012
Release date: 04/01/2012
Genre: Fiction
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