Sarah Gorham, Author . Four Way $14.95 (82p) ISBN 978-1-884800-51-1

The winning third offering from Gorham (The Tension Zone ) displays her strengths as an observer of family life, from everyday joys to aggressive, dysfunctional sorrows, gathering strength as it goes along. Gorham's opening array of meditative and memory-based poems consider a father, mother and sister and the mature self the poet grew up to claim. Chiseled poems about adult life take the speaker from marriage and honeymoon to motherhood, then follow a daughter from infancy to her teens: the mix of autobiographical detail and well-grounded moralizing in these poems recalls Jane Shore and Tess Gallagher, though Gorham ends up perhaps more restrained than either. Gorham's short-lined central sequence considers the damaging experience of living with male alcoholics. (Gorham and her husband, the poet Jeffrey Skinner, together edited the anthology Last Call: Poems on Addiction, Alcoholism & Deliverance .) A concluding sheaf of lyric poems modulate from thoughtful late-model confessionalism to a style more open and original: these poems include everything from a messy teen's room to "Happiness," to eye disease, to "Sleeping on Couches... Because you cannot know the future and you need the rest." Along with Skinner, Gorham operates Sarabande Books, the Kentucky-based literary publisher; their labors on behalf of other poets' work ought to help promote Gorham's own modest and well-made collection. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 10/27/2003
Release date: 11/01/2003
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