The Pear as One Example: New and Selected Poems

Eric Pankey, Author . Ausable $16 (274p) ISBN 978-1-931337-39-7

Serious, even solemn, in his meditations on appearance and reality, dejection, consolation, selfhood and grief, Pankey's seven earlier books won the sustained respect of sophisticated readers. This first retrospective volume shows both the consistency of his self-scrutinizing tone and the ways in which, for him, a change of line and form changed everything. His free verse adagios of the 1980s emphasized personal epiphanies; Apocrypha (1991) brought the rhythms and the diction of Wallace Stevens to Pankey's engagement with Christian belief. More recent works such as Reliquaries (2005) pursued the details of the visible world and the vicissitudes of meditation in longer lines reminiscent of Charles Wright: “I say a prayer for the world,” Pankey intones, “and in the midst lose my place/ Amid the winter garden, the rain garden,/ the minor chord/ Of seasons.” There and in 25 new poems—among them elegies, seasonal odes and associative “self-portraits”—Pankey works hard to bring together his abstract intensities with his desire to live in the here and now: “Soon enough the word// Incarnates as a burnished body.... The stop-gap stitches where the narrative frays.” Many will continue to find such speculations profound. (May)

Reviewed on: 04/21/2008
Release date: 04/01/2008
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